Posts Tagged ‘Mark Roe’

How to Use a Bank Tax to Make the Financial System Safer

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Tuesday March 25, 2014 at 9:21 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is based on an op-ed by Professor Roe and Michael Tröge that was published today in The Financial Times, which can be found here.

A tax on the balance sheets of big banks—first proposed by US President Barack Obama in 2010 but later shelved—is back on the political agenda. Last month Dave Camp, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, put forward a proposal for tax reform that included a 0.035 per cent levy on bank assets more than $500bn. This would hit large institutions such as Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

The aim of the Republican plan is to find tax revenue that could be used to offset cuts in income taxes on individuals. Mr. Obama pitched his proposal as a way of raising money from US banks to help repay taxpayers who had to bail them out at the height of the crisis. Neither plan aims to make the financial system safer, and neither would. But with a few alterations, a balance-sheet tax could help strengthen the banks.

…continue reading: How to Use a Bank Tax to Make the Financial System Safer

Poll Ranks Harvard First in Strength of Business Law Faculty

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Thursday December 12, 2013 at 9:18 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter

A new poll, conducted by Brian Leitter of the University of Chicago Law School, and published here, identifies the top business law faculties. Harvard Law School was ranked first, coming ahead of second-place Columbia Law School by a large margin. The poll ranks faculties in terms of their strength in the business law areas, including antitrust, bankruptcy, commercial law, contracts, corporate law and finance, and securities regulation.

The HLS business law faculty listed by the poll’s conductors are Lucian Bebchuk, Robert C. Clark, John Coates, Einer Elhauge, Allen Ferrell, Jesse Fried, Louis Kaplow, Reinier Kraakmann, J. Mark Ramseyer, Mark J. Roe, Holger Spamann, Kathryn Spier, and Guhan Subramanian.

…continue reading: Poll Ranks Harvard First in Strength of Business Law Faculty

Structural Corporate Degradation Due to Too-Big-To-Fail Finance

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Tuesday November 26, 2013 at 9:17 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law.

Corporate governance incentives at too-big-to-fail financial firms deserve systematic examination. For industrial conglomerates that have grown too large, internal and external corporate structural pressures push to re-size the firm. External activists press it to restructure to raise its stock market value. Inside the firm, boards and managers see that the too-big firm can be more efficient and more profitable if restructured via spin-offs and sales. But for large, too-big-to-fail financial firms (1) if the value captured by being too-big-to-fail lowers the firms’ financing costs enough and (2) if a resized firm or the spun-off entities would lose that funding benefit, then a major constraint on industrial firm over-expansion breaks down for too-big-to-fail finance.

Propositions (1) and (2) have both been true and, consequently, a major retardant to industrial firm over-expansion has been missing in the large financial firm. Debt cost savings from the implicit subsidy can amount to a good fraction of the big firms’ profits. Directors contemplating spin-offs at a too-big-to-fail financial firm accordingly face the problem that the spun-off, smaller firms would lose access to cheaper too-big-to-fail funding. Hence, they will be relatively more reluctant to push for break-up, for spin-offs, or for slowing expansion. They would get a better managed group of financial firms if their restructuring succeeded, but would lose the too-big-to-fail subsidy embedded in any lowered funding costs. Subtly but pervasively, internal corporate counterpressures that resist excessive bulk, size, and growth degrade.

…continue reading: Structural Corporate Degradation Due to Too-Big-To-Fail Finance

Harpooning the London Whale is no Substitute for Reform

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Thursday August 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is based on an op-ed by Professor Roe that was published today in The Financial Times, which can be found here.

And so the drama moves on to a courtroom. Two prime traders in JPMorgan Chase’s “London whale” misadventure have been indicted. Side plots may unfold, perhaps via extradition proceedings. But here is the big question: will the indictments lead to better, stronger financial markets? Well, yes and no.

Recall the problem: JPMorgan’s London trading desk made trades that would be profitable if the post-crisis American economy remained weak. As the economy improved, the traders sought to reverse the investments, but could not, ultimately losing the bank and its shareholders $6bn.

The indictments are not for the loss, but for deliberately misstating the size of the loss to higher-ups at the bank. That, in turn, led to misstated financial statements to the public and the bank’s regulators. Whether higher-ups pushed for lower reported losses remains to be seen.

Misleading the regulators is serious: if the losses threatened the bank itself, the regulators would have needed to know early so they could act. True, JPMorgan is well capitalised so a $6bn loss was painful but not life threatening; and, the indictment says, the deception was sized in hundreds of millions of dollars. But regulators still want to be alerted, to see if other big institutions were making similar bets. The financial crisis hit in 2008 because too many made similar (bad) bets on the American housing market’s ability to support its massive levels of poor-quality mortgage securities. An early warning system will not work if financiers hide problems.

…continue reading: Harpooning the London Whale is no Substitute for Reform

The Costs of “Too Big To Fail”

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Wednesday June 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is Professor Roe’s most recent op-ed written for the international association of newspapers Project Syndicate, which can be found here.

The idea that some banks are “too big to fail” has emerged from the obscurity of regulatory and academic debate into the broader public discourse on finance. Bloomberg News started the most recent public discussion, criticizing the benefit that such banks receive — a benefit that a study released by the International Monetary Fund has shown to be quite large.

Bankers’ lobbyists and representatives dismissed the Bloomberg editorial for citing a single study, and for relying on rating agencies’ rankings for the big banks, which showed that several would have to pay more for their long-term funding if financial markets didn’t expect government support in case of trouble.

In fact, though, there are about ten recent studies, not just one, concerning the benefit that too-big-to-fail banks receive from the government. Nearly every study points in the same direction: a large boost in the too-big-to-fail subsidy during and after the financial crisis, making it cheaper for big banks to borrow.

But a recent research report released by Goldman Sachs argues the contrary — and deserves to be taken more seriously than the first dismissive views. The report concludes that, over time, big banks’ advantage in long-term funding costs relative to smaller banks has been one-third of one percentage point; that this advantage is small; that it narrowed recently (and may be reversing); that it comes from the big banks’ efficiency and their bonds’ liquidity; and that historically it has been mostly small banks, not big ones, that have failed.

…continue reading: The Costs of “Too Big To Fail”

The Dodd-Frank Act’s Maginot Line: Clearinghouse Construction

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Wednesday May 8, 2013 at 9:18 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law.

This post summarizes “The Dodd-Frank Act’s Maginot Line:  Clearinghouse Construction,” which will appear in the California Law Review later this year.

Regulatory reaction to the 2008–2009 financial crisis, following the failures of AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and the Reserve Primary Fund, focused on complex financial instruments that deepened the crisis. A consensus emerged that these risky financial instruments should move through safe, strong clearinghouses, which would be bulwarks against systemic risk.

The consensus turned into law, via the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, in which Congress instructed regulators to construct clearinghouses through which these risky financial instruments would trade and settle. Clearinghouses could repel financial risk, reduce contagion, and halt a local financial problem before it became an economy-wide crisis.

But clearinghouses are weaker bulwarks against financial contagion, financial panic, and systemic risk than is commonly thought. They may well be unable to defend the economy against financial stress such as that of the 2008–2009 crisis. Although they can be efficient financial platforms in ordinary times, they do little to reduce systemic risk in crisis times.

…continue reading: The Dodd-Frank Act’s Maginot Line: Clearinghouse Construction

Breaking Bankruptcy Priority: How Rent-Seeking Upends the Creditors’ Bargain

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Friday May 3, 2013 at 9:43 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law, and Frederick Tung is Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law.

Frederick Tung and I recently posted “Breaking Bankruptcy Priority: How Rent-Seeking Upends the Creditors’ Bargain,” to SSRN. It is scheduled to appear in Virginia Law Review later this year. In “Breaking Bankruptcy Priority,” we examine the stability of bankruptcy’s priority structure.

Overall, bankruptcy reallocates value in a faltering firm. The bankruptcy apparatus eliminates some claims and alters others, leaving a reduced set of claims to match the firm’s diminished capacity to pay. This restructuring is done according to statutory and agreed-to contractual priorities, so that lower-ranking claims are eliminated first and higher ranking ones are preserved to the extent possible. Bankruptcy scholarship has long conceptualized this reallocation as a hypothetical bargain among creditors: creditors agree in advance that if the firm falters, value will be reallocated according to a fixed set of predetermined rules and contracts.

…continue reading: Breaking Bankruptcy Priority: How Rent-Seeking Upends the Creditors’ Bargain

Corporate Short-Termism – In the Boardroom and in the Courtroom

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday April 26, 2013 at 9:21 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law.

Last month I posted to SRRN Corporate Short-Termism – In the Boardroom and in the Courtroom, which the Business Lawyer will publish this August.

In this paper, I examine a long-held view in corporate circles has been that furious rapid trading in stock markets has been increasing in recent decades, justifying more judicial measures that shield managers and boards from shareholder influence, so that boards and managers are freer to pursue sensible long-term strategies in their investment and management policies.

However, when I evaluate the evidence in favor of that view, the evidence turns out to be insufficient to justify insulating boards from markets further. While there is evidence of short-term distortions, the view is countered by several under-analyzed aspects of the American economy, each of which alone could trump the board isolation prescription. Together they make the case for further judicial isolation of boards from markets untenable.

…continue reading: Corporate Short-Termism – In the Boardroom and in the Courtroom

Apple’s Cash-Flow Problem

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Saturday April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is Professor Roe’s most recent op-ed written for the international association of newspapers Project Syndicate, which can be found here.

I recently examined the problem of corporate short-termism from two nonstandard angles. One was that some short-termism is sensible. Large firms face an increasingly fluid economic, technological, and political environment – owing to more global and competitive markets, to the greater potential of technological change to alter firms’ business environment, and to governments’ growing influence over what makes business sense. In this kind of a fluid environment, large companies must be cautious before making large, long-term commitments.

…continue reading: Apple’s Cash-Flow Problem

London Whale is the Cost of Too Big to Fail

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Monday March 25, 2013 at 9:28 am
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is Professor Roe’s recent op-ed written for The Financial Times, which can be found here.

The report by the US Senate staff on JPMorgan Chase’s “London Whale” trades, delivered last Friday, excoriates the bank for failing to make the full extent of the problem known to regulators and the public. But a focus on who knew what when can result in missing the big point: the cost of our too-big-to-fail banks is even heftier than is widely appreciated.

The conventional wisdom in many circles is that the losses caused by the trades are regrettable but we can all move on. After all, JPMorgan’s equity cushion can readily absorb it. Private shareholders and managers have paid the price – shareholders lost $6bn and several senior managers have black marks against their names. The episode is embarrassing but the bank can earn more than $20bn a year. “A tempest in a teapot,” said Jamie Dimon, its chief executive, last year.

But before the London Whale sinks from view, consider what would befall a conventional industrial company that suffered such a horrendous, expensive managerial lapse. If JPMorgan were in the business of making things, it would have already attracted significant corporate governance activity. The loss might be the trigger for a takeover and break-up effort.

…continue reading: London Whale is the Cost of Too Big to Fail

Next Page »
 
  •  » A "Web Winner" by The Philadelphia Inquirer
  •  » A "Top Blog" by LexisNexis
  •  » A "10 out of 10" by the American Association of Law Librarians Blog
  •  » A source for "insight into the latest developments" by Directorship Magazine