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It’s Settled Then!

Josh Wright —  9 August 2012

You pronounce the petitioners name in Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.: lee-jən.

That and other SCOTUS pronunciation debates resolved here (courtesy of the Green Bag and the Yale Law Library).

HT: Danny Sokol.

TOP 10 Papers for Journal of Antitrust: Antitrust Law & Policy eJournal June 4, 2012 to August 3, 2012.

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 244 The Antitrust/Consumer Protection Paradox: Two Policies at War with Each Other 
Joshua D. Wright,
George Mason University – School of Law, Faculty,
Date posted to database: May 31, 2012
Last Revised: May 31, 2012
2 237 Cartels, Corporate Compliance and What Practitioners Really Think About Enforcement 
D. Daniel Sokol,
University of Florida – Levin College of Law,
Date posted to database: June 7, 2012
Last Revised: July 16, 2012
3 175 The Implications of Behavioral Antitrust 
Maurice E. Stucke,
University of Tennessee College of Law,
Date posted to database: July 17, 2012
Last Revised: July 17, 2012
4 167 The Oral Hearing in Competition Proceedings Before the European Commission 
Wouter P. J. WilsWouter P. J. Wils,
European Commission, University of London – School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 3, 2012
Last Revised: June 18, 2012
5 141 Citizen Petitions: An Empirical Study 
Michael A. CarrierDaryl Wander,
Rutgers University School of Law – Camden, Unaffiliated Authors – affiliation not provided to SSRN,
Date posted to database: June 4, 2012
Last Revised: June 4, 2012
6 138 The Role of the Hearing Officer in Competition Proceedings Before the European Commission 
Wouter P. J. WilsWouter P. J. Wils,
European Commission, University of London – School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 3, 2012
Last Revised: May 7, 2012
7 90 Google, in the Aftermath of Microsoft and Intel: The Right Approach to Antitrust Enforcement in Innovative High Tech Platform Markets? 
Fernando Diez,
University of Antonio de Nebrija,
Date posted to database: June 12, 2012
Last Revised: June 26, 2012
8 140 Dynamic Analysis and the Limits of Antitrust Institutions 
Douglas H. GinsburgJoshua D. Wright,
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, George Mason University – School of Law, Faculty,
Date posted to database: June 14, 2012
Last Revised: June 17, 2012
9 114 Optimal Antitrust Remedies: A Synthesis 
William H. Page,
University of Florida – Fredric G. Levin College of Law,
Date posted to database: May 17, 2012
Last Revised: July 29, 2012
10 111 An Economic Analysis of the AT&T-T-Mobile USA Wireless Merger 
Stanley M. BesenStephen KletterSerge MoresiSteven C. Salopjohn woodbury,
Charles River Associates (CRA), Charles River Associates (CRA), Charles River Associates (CRA), Georgetown University Law Center, Charles River Associates (CRA),
Date posted to database: April 25, 2012
Last Revised: April 25, 2012

From the WSJ:

White House regulatory chief Cass Sunstein is leaving his post this month to return to Harvard Law School, officials said Friday.

Mr. Sunstein has long been an advocate of behavorial economics in setting policy, the notion that people will respond to incentives, and has argued for restraint in government regulations. As such, he was met with skepticism and opposition by some liberals when he was chosen at the start of the Obama administration.

As administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, his formal title, Mr. Sunstein led an effort to look back at existing regulations with an eye toward killing those that are no longer needed or cost effective. The White House estimates that effort has already produced $10 billion in savings over five years, with more to come.

“Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety and the environment,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. He said these reforms and “his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis,” will “benefit Americans for years to come.”

Even so, conservatives point to sweeping new regulations for the financial sector and health care in arguing that the administration has increased the regulatory burden on businesses.

Mr. Sunstein will depart this month for Harvard, where he will rejoin the law school faculty as the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and Director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy.

It will be interesting to hear, once Professor Sunstein returns to an academic setting, his views on whether and in what instances — aside from the CFPB — behavioral economics actually had much impact on the formation of regulatory policy within the Administration.

Richard Epstein replies to Judge Posner’s Apple v. Motorola opinion and follow-up article in The Atlantic.

The anti-patent sentiment has just been fueled by a remarkable opinion by Judge Richard Posner, my long-time colleague at the University of Chicago, sitting as a trial judge in the major case, Apple v. Motorola. The high-profile case concerns five patents—four by Apple and one by Motorola—that are involved in mobile phone technology, and it has drawn more than its fair share of attention. Judge Posner took the extraordinary step of dismissing the claims of both sides with prejudice—meaning, the case cannot be filed again elsewhere—on the grounds that neither side could make good on its argument for either damages or injunctions.

Thus, when the dust settled, there was no reason at all to have a trial on whether either side had infringed the patents of the other. In a subsequent piece written for The Atlantic, grandly entitled “Why There are Too Many Patents in America,” Posner delivered a general critique of the patent system, discussing the broader issues involved in his judicial decision.

There is much of interest, as always, in Epstein’s column.  But the closing section on damages and injunctions is where the action is:

What is so striking about Posner’s relentless dissection of the imprecision in these claims was that he could apply it with equal conviction in any patent software dispute. The estimates of damages under the law are not confined to a single standard, but often involve an uncertain choice between reasonable royalties for licensing the patent and actual damages that were incurred because the patents were not licensed. The injunctive relief is (or at least should be) awarded precisely because it is so difficult to figure out what those damages really ought to be.

But Posner said that he would not allow an injunction if the best that the plaintiffs could garner was $1 in nominal damages. That surely seems over the top, because if there is infringement, the one number that is manifestly wrong is $1. A more sensible approach here, therefore, is to mix and marry the two remedies, so that the injunction does not pull the past product off the market, but awards some damages for past losses, while giving the infringer some period of time—say three to six months—to invent around the patent for future output. This then sets the stage for a negotiated license if that is cheaper.

By putting the remedial cart before the liability horse, we have the odd situation that no one can find out anything about the strength of the patent or the potential range of damages. If that is done on a common basis, then we will have knocked out the entire patent system for software, without having the slightest idea of the relative strength of the Apple and Motorola contentions.

The Posner decision looks doubly worrisome against the backdrop of his ominous Atlantic column, which shows his ill-concealed disdain for a complex industry with which he has had no direct engagement. It is an odd way to make patent policy. Right now, a similar Apple-Samsung dispute is before Judge Lucy Koh, which will involve a real trial. The Posner opinion is already on the fast track to appeal before the Federal Circuit, which will give us more information as to whether these submarine assaults on the patent system will take hold. Let us hope that Posner’s mysterious patent adventurism dies a quick and deserved death.

Do go read the whole thing.  For interested readers, here is Posner’s Atlantic column.

Here.  The most interesting part is Caplan’s take on why it is Friedman stands apart from other free-market thinkers:

Why does Friedman stand apart from my other idols?  In the end, it’s the absence of obscurantism.  Friedman makes his points as simply, clearly, and bluntly as possible.  He never rambles on.  He never hides behind academic jargon.  Healmost never makes bizarre philosophical assertions to explain away obvious facts.  He never tries to win fair weather converts by speaking in vague generalities about “liberty.”  Friedman never turned out to have feet of clay, because he played every game barefoot.

Many libertarians look down on Friedman for his moderation and statist compromises.  I’m about as radical as libertarians come, but these critics have never impressed me.  By any normal standard, Friedman was a very radical libertarian indeed.  If you’re going to take points off for a few deviations, remember to give him extra credit for earnestly trying to convince people who didn’t already agree with him.  His arguments for liberty weren’t just intellectually compelling; he made them with humor and common decency.  Friedman was a paragon of libertarian friendliness – a model of the nobility we should all aspire to.

In a just world, we’d all be Friedmanites now.  But don’t be bitter that he wasn’t more successful.  Rejoice that a century ago, Milton Friedman was born – and forever enriched the world of ideas.

And a paragraph from the National Review tribute:

Friedman’s economics was in many ways an economics of the poor. As early as 1955 he was publishing articles about the failure of government-monopoly schools to properly educate the children of the poor and marginalized, and he proposed a system of vouchers to allow the disadvantaged to pursue the same educational opportunities that their better-off neighbors enjoyed. Liberals grimaced to hear him say it, but he correctly identified the minimum-wage requirement as “one of the most, if not the most anti-black law on the statute books,” and referred to the elevated black unemployment rate as “a disgrace and scandal.” He spent much of his public life arguing that “there has never been a more effective machine for the elimination of poverty than the free-enterprise system and a free market.” By contrast, he described the welfare state as “a machine for producing poor people.” His most influential work (conducted together with his colleague Anna Jacobson Schwartz) was on the causes of the Great Depression, making a powerful case that it was not market failure but government policy — specifically Federal Reserve policy — that turned a normal economic downturn into an epic catastrophe.

Read both.

Food trucks must remain at least 200 feet away from restaurants under the new Chicago regulation (HT: Reason).  It also appears food trucks must carry a GPS that will allow detection of violations (parking within 200 feet of a restaurant — apparently, any restaurant) which carry a fine of up to $2,000.  Protection of restaurants is the obvious and apparently express rationale for the restraint imposed upon food trucks:

“We see no health or safety justification behind the 200-foot rule, and the city has never offered one,” says Kregor. “The only explanation for the rule is the restaurants’ demand for protectionism and the city government’s deference to those demands.”  That’s no exaggeration. Even supporters of the new regulations freely admit they’re designed to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants.  “We want food trucks to make money, but we don’t want to hurt brick-and-mortar restaurants,” says Alderman Walter Burnett.

Chicago’s Institute for Justice has more.

I continue to think, as I’ve mentioned here previously, the consumer welfare losses associated with local and city barriers to entry are greatly underestimated.

I’m very pleased to announce the George Mason Law & Economics Center is hosting a program focusing on our friend and colleague Larry Ribstein’s scholarship on the market for law.   Henry Butler and Bruce Kobayashi have put together a really wonderful program of folks coming together not to celebrate Larry’s work — but to use it as a platform for further discussion and for legal scholars to engage in these important issues.

Interested readers might want to check out the TOTM Unlocking the Law Symposium.

The announcement follows and I hope to see some of you there on Friday, November 9, 2012 at GMU Law.
The Henry G. Manne Program in Law and Regulatory Studies presents Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Professor Larry Ribstein to be held at George Mason University School of Law, Friday, November 9th, 2012. The conference will run from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

OVERVIEW: In a series of influential and provocative articles, Professor Larry Ribstein examined the forces behind the recent upheaval in the market for legal services. These forces included increased global competition, changes in the demand for legal services resulting from the expanded role of the in-house counsel, and the expanded use of technology. His analysis showed that changes in the market for legal services were not just the result of a cyclical downturn in the economy. Rather, the profound changes in the market reflected building competitive pressures that exposed the flaws in the business model used by large firms to provide legal services. His recent writings also examined the broader implications of this upheaval for legal education, the private production of law, and whether legal innovation will be hindered by or hasten the demise of the current system of professional regulation of lawyers.

Professor Ribstein passed away suddenly on December 24, 2011. In the wake of the terrible loss of their close friend and colleague, Professors Henry Butler and Bruce Kobayashi (along with several other colleagues at Mason Law) have decided to honor Larry through a conference designed to capture and expand on the spirit of Larry’s recent work. The Unlocking the Law Conference seeks to advance these goals by inviting legal scholars to present their views and engage in a vibrant discussion about the present and future of the market for legal services. The panels at this conference will showcase 14 papers written specifically for this occasion and presented to the public for the first time.

This conference is organized by Henry N. Butler, Executive Director of the Law & Economics Center and George Mason Foundation Professor of Law, and Bruce H. Kobayashi, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law through a new Project on Legal Services Reform – under the auspices of the Mason Law & Economics Center. The Project on Legal Services Reform seeks to continue and extend the important work on legal innovation, legal education, law firms, and legal regulation produced by Larry. We hope to encourage scholars who have not worked in these areas to read Larry’s work, critique it in the same manner in which Larry famously commented on papers, and expand (or even restrict or redirect) the thrust of Larry’s work. In essence, this project is about “Larry as Catalyst.”

For background information, you might want to visit TRUTH ON THE MARKET (http://www.truthonthemarket.com), which held an online symposium on this topic on September 19 and 20, 2011.

REGISTRATION: You must pre-register for this event. To register, please send a message with your name, affiliation, and full contact information to: Jeff Smith, Coordinator, Henry G. Manne Program in Law and Regulatory Studies, jsmithQ@gmu.edu

AGENDA:

Friday, November 9, 2012:

Panel I. The Future of Legal Services and Legal Education

How the Structure of Universities Determined the Fate of American Law Schools
– Henry G. Manne, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ave Maria School of Law; Dean Emeritus, George Mason University School of Law

The Undergraduate Option for Legal Education
– John O. McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law

Panel II. Deregulating Legal Services

The Deprofessionalization of Profession Services: What Law and Medicine Have in Common and How They Differ
– Richard A. Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

The Future of Licensing Lawyers
– M. Todd Henderson, Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Failing the Legal System: Why Lawyers and Judges Need to Act to Authorize the Organizational Practice of Law
– Gillian K. Hadfield, Richard L. and Antoinette Schamoi Kirtland Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Globalization and Deregulation of Legal Services
– Nuno Garoupa, Professor and H. Ross and Helen Workman Research Scholar, University of Illinois College of Law; Co-Director, Illinois Program on Law, Behavior, and Social Science

Panel III. Law Firms and Competition Between Lawyers

From Big Law to Lean Law
– William D. Henderson, Professor of Law and Van Nolan Faculty Fellow, Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Director, Center on the Global Legal Profession

Glass Half Full: The Significant Upsides to the Changes in the American Legal Market
– Benjamin H. Barton, Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law

An Exploration of Price Competition Among Lawyers
– Clifford Winston, Senior Fellow, Economics Studies, Brooking Institution

Panel IV. Reputation, Fiduciary Duties, and Agency Costs

Lawyers as Reputational Intermediaries: Sovereign Bond Issuances (1820-2012)
– Michael H. Bradley, F.M. Kirby Professor of Investment Banking Emeritus, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University; Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
– Mitu Gulati, Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
– Irving A. De Lira Salvatierra, Graduate Student, Department of Economics, Duke University

The Fiduciary Society
– Jason Scott Johnston, Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law and Nicholas E. Chimicles Research Professor in Business Law and Regulation, University of Virginia School of Law

Class Action Lawmakers and the Agency Problem
– Barry E. Adler, Bernard Petrie Professor of Law and Business and Associate Dean for Information Systems and Technology, New York University School of Law

Panel V. Private Lawmaking and Adjudication

Decentralizing the Lawmaking Function: Should There Be Intellectual Property Rights in Law?
– Robert G. Bone, G. Rollie White Teaching Excellence Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Arbitration, the Law Market, and the Law of Lawyering
– Erin O’Hara O’Connor, Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
– Peter B. Rutledge, Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law, University of Georgia Law School

VENUE:
George Mason University School of Law
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201

FURTHER INFORMATION: For more information regarding this conference or other initiatives of the Law & Economics Center, please visit: http://www.MasonLEC.org

Call or send an email to: Tel: (703) 993-8040, Email: lec@gmu.edu

The Henry G. Manne Program in Law & Economics honors the legacy of Henry G. Manne, Dean Emeritus of George Mason Law School and founder of the Law & Economics Center. Manne was a trailblazer in the development of law and economics, not only as a prominent and influential scholar, but also as an academic entrepreneur. He spurred the development of law and economics into the most influential area of legal scholarship through his Economics Institutes for Law Professors and Law Institutes for Economics Professors. The Manne Program promotes law-and-economics scholarship by funding faculty research and hosting research roundtables and academic conferences.

http://www.MasonManne.org

In light of Barclays and other recent events, The Economist focuses on increasing corporate fines in response to price-fixing violations.

That some firms behave badly is nothing new, but the response of the authorities has changed recently. Take cartels. Internationally, fines rose by a factor of one thousand between the 1990s and 2000s. Data from America suggest this is not because there are more cartel cases, which have shown no upward trend since the late 1980s. Rather, the average level of fines has risen (see left-hand chart). Recent penalties have smashed records. The Barclays fine includes the largest ever levied by Britain’s financial regulator and America’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for instance. Even so, are fines high enough to work?

The article goes on to discuss the Becker optimal sanction framework.  It also makes some important mistakes in framing the debate.  For example, it describes the Chicago School approach has rejecting corporate or individual fines in lieu of the reputational costs antitrust violators will bear.  The article reaches an unsurprising conclusion consistent with the historical approach of U.S. antitrust and with conventional wisdom: what is needed is more increases in corporate fines.

To deter bad behaviour fines need to rise. The watchdogs are biting, but some need sharper teeth.

For reasons described in my article with Judge Ginsburg (D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; NYU Law), Antitrust Sanctions, I’m skeptical ever-increasing corporate fines are the appropriate prescription for improving deterrence of hard core cartel activity.   Competition Policy International (who published the original article) interviews Judge Ginsburg and I here.  We discuss existing evidence on the effectiveness of criminal antitrust sanctions and propose adding to the mix debarment for individuals responsible for cartel activity.

In the WSJ, Professor Macey takes measure of the CFPB’s new mortgage disclosures and finds them lacking:

The CFPB is proposing to revise the old forms into a new Loan Estimate Form and Closing Disclosure Form. The old loan form had been five pages; according to the agency website, the new one is three. The closing form remains at five pages. That’s a net savings of two pieces of paper. But the agency rules required to implement the new forms weigh in at an astonishing 1,099 pages.

In evaluating the substance of the new disclosure themselves, Macey concludes the new forms are likely to harm consumers rather than help them.

Do the new rules expand consumer choice? They would forbid many borrowers from making smaller payments every month, followed by a single, one-time balloon payment to retire the principal at the end. They also would cap late fees—which means borrowers would be unable to get a lower interest rate on a loan by agreeing to pay a penalty if they don’t make their payments on time.

The new rules restrict loan-modification fees, which means mortgagors will offer fewer options to do so. They restrict penalties on borrowers who pay off their home loans early. These prepayment fees compensate lenders for the risk of lower returns on their loans. Without this protection they will either decline to offer loans to some borrowers or charge a higher interest rate.

The government’s proposed rules require high-risk customers in high-cost loan markets to meet with financial counselors before taking out a loan. The regulators also want to expand dramatically the number of mortgages classified as high cost. But financial counselors will have to be compensated, whether their advice is good or bad. The law deprives these consumers of the right to do their own homework.

Oddly, hidden on the new disclosure forms is the Annual Percentage Rate. For decades the APR was front and center on government-mandated disclosure documents. It is the single number that shows borrowers the cost of borrowing including such factors as the interest rate, certain fees, and the maturity structure of the loan.

The CFPB claims its consumer testing showed people didn’t understand the APR. Yet if someone is trying to compare two loans—one with a lower interest rate and $15,000 in fees, the other with lower fees but a higher interest rate—it’s not possible to determine which loan is cheaper without the APR.  The new rules do not attempt to generate a single number that can be used for comparison purposes and instead focus on various components of the loan such as fees, penalties, interest rates and maturity separately. This makes it harder, not easier, for borrowers to compare mortgage options.

Ultimately, we will be able to evaluate the impact of these new disclosures empirically by watching the results of the CFPB’s “experiment.”

Off to Estes Park for the return of the Mason Law and Economics Center Economic Institute for Law Professors (agenda here) and Law Institute for Economic Professors (agenda here).  I will be team-teaching microeconomics in the Economics Institute with friend and co-author Mike Baye (Indiana) for the first few days — and then some vacation.  Should be a lot of fun.  If you are an economics or law professor interested in attending next year — feel free to contact me via email if you have questions.

Blogging will be a bit slow for me over the next week or so.