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The Development of Opacity in U.S. Banking

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An examination of U.S. banking history shows that economically efficient private bank money requires that information-revealing securities markets for bank liabilities be closed. That is, banks are optimally opaque, which is why they are regulated and examined. This Article examines the transition from private bank notes, the predominant form of money before the U.S. Civil […]

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Shadowy Banking: Theft By Safety Net

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Shadowy Banking is financial activity that is engineered to extract implicit subsidies from government safety nets. It substitutes innovative corporate entities and products for activities that could be performed more straightforwardly within a traditional banking firm. The shadows obscure organizational forms and transaction strategies that circumvent regulatory restraints and extract subsidies by regulation-induced innovation. Because […]

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Capital and Liquidity Requirements: A Review of the Issues and Literature

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In this Article I review the literature on the conceptual and analytical arguments for and against capital adequacy and liquidity requirements for banks, in light of historical and recent experiences and evidence. Much research argues for higher capital adequacy requirements given their beneficial effects in terms of better incentives, greater buffers, and improved interventions in […]

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Dynamic Loss Probabilities and Implications for Financial Regulation

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Much of financial regulation and supervision is devoted to ensuring the safety and soundness of financial institutions. Such micro- and macro-prudential policies are almost always formulated as capital requirements, leverage constraints, and other statutory restrictions designed to limit the probability of extreme financial loss to some small but acceptable threshold. However, if the risks of […]

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Disclosure Universes and Modes of Information: Banks, Innovation, and Divergent Regulatory Quests

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In 2013, a new system for mandatory public disclosure came into effect, the first since the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1934. Today, major banks and certain other entities must make disclosures mandated not only by the SEC, but also by a new system developed by the Federal Reserve Board and […]

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Getting Incentives Right: Is Deferred Bank Executive Compensation Sufficient?

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In the wake of the global financial crisis, attention has often focused on whether incentives generated by bank executives’ compensation programs led to excessive risk-taking. Post-crisis, compensation reform proposals have taken broadly three approaches: long-term deferred equity incentive compensation, mandatory bonus clawbacks upon accounting restatements and financial losses, and debt-based compensation. In earlier articles we […]

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Search, Antitrust, and the Economics of the Control of User Data

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This Article argues for reorienting many antitrust investigations–and more generally regulatory approaches–to focus on how control of personal data by corporations can entrench monopoly power in an economy shaped increasingly by the power of “big data.” What is largely missed in analyses defending Google from antitrust action is how Google’s ever expanding control of user […]

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Off the Record: The National Security Council, Drone Killings, and Historical Accountability

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The central and expanding role of the National Security Council in compiling the “kill list” of U.S. citizens and others approved for drone killing outside of recognized battlefields highlights the largely overlooked fact that, since the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has taken the categorical position that the National Security Council is exempt from both the […]

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Beyond Tax Credits: Smarter Tax Policy for a Cleaner, More Democratic Energy Future

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Solar, wind, and other renewable energy technologies have the potential to mitigate climate change, secure America’s energy independence, and create millions of green jobs. In the absence of a price on carbon emissions, however, these long-term benefits will not be realized without near-term policy support for renewable energy. This Article assesses the efficiency of federal […]

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Bypassing Congress on Federal Debt: Executive Branch Options to Avoid Default

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In a prior article, I examined how a U.S. debt default might occur and analyzed its potential consequences. Even a mere “technical” default, such as temporarily missing an interest or principal payment, “almost certainly [[would] have large systemic effects with long-term adverse consequences for Treasury finances and the U.S. economy.” The most plausible U.S. debt […]

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Injunctions in Sovereign Debt Litigation

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Injunctions against foreign sovereigns have come under criticism on comity and enforcement grounds. This Feature argues that these objections are overstated. Comity considerations are important but not dispositive. Enforcement objections assign too much significance to the court’s inability to impose meaningful contempt sanctions, overlooking the fact that, when a foreign sovereign is involved, both money […]

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Shotguns and Deadlocks

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This Article studies business deadlocks and their resolution. We advance a proposal to reform the way that courts resolve business deadlocks and value business assets. Specifically, we argue that Shotgun mechanisms, where the court mandates one owner to name a single buy-sell price and compels the other owner to either buy or sell shares at […]

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Three Proposals for Regulating the Distribution of Home Equity

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recently-released “qualified mortgage” rules effectively discourage predatory lending but miss an equally important source of systemic risk: low-equity clustering. Specific “volatility-inducing” mortgage terms, when present in a substantial cluster of mortgage contracts, exacerbate macroeconomic risk by increasing the chance that the housing and lending markets will have to absorb a […]

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For Diversity in the International Regulation of Financial Institutions: Critiquing and Recalibrating the Basel Architecture

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This Article challenges the prevailing view of the efficacy of harmonized international financial regulation and provides a mechanism for facilitating regulatory diversity and experimentation within the existing global regulatory framework, the Basel Accords. Recent experience suggests that regulatory harmonization can increase, rather than decrease, systemic risk, an effect that is the precise opposite of the […]