• Scholarship

    New Chicago-Kent faculty scholarship.

    Business Reactions to Trade Wars

    by  • April 15, 2019 • Faculty Commentary, Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho [originally posted on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog on April 14, 2019]


    There is a Chinese saying that “when there is a policy from the above, there is a reaction from the below” (“上有政策, 下有对策”).  This is exactly what has happened since the inception of trade wars.  Both domestic and international businesses have attempted to avoid the punitive tariffs through various means, such as the exclusion application, transshipment and tariff engineering.  As you can imagine, some have been successful; others not.

    The Financial Times has recently offered an excellent simulation game (“Dodging Trump’s Tariffs”) in which readers can educate themselves about intriguing consequences of trade wars.  The simulation game is based on real examples.  Highly recommendable!

    A WTO’s “Kompetenz-Kompetenz” Moment

    by  • April 9, 2019 • Faculty Commentary, Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho [originally posted on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog on April 5, 2019]


    This is a supplemental post to Simon’s earlier one that provides an excellent summary of the Russia – Traffic in Transit panel report. Here are some aspects of the panel report that I found interesting and worth further reflection.

    First, one might say that this landmark decision is characteristic of a “constitutional” moment to the WTO. I understand that the use of “c” word here might be frowned upon in some circles, both legal and political. However, GATT Article XXI is not just a mundane, technical interpretive issue to the WTO. It is a matter of allocating power between the WTO as an autonomous institution and its member. If I exaggerate a little bit, this particular dispute echoes potential existential angst from the WTO. What if the panel had accepted Russia’s original claim and declared Article XXI as a “self-judging” provision? Constitutional consequences would have been dire. The WTO would have opened the jurisdictional Pandora’s Box, invited massive abuses and therefore undermined its own rationale (and identity). (more…)

    Are Trade Wars Missing the Point? (Part II)

    by  • February 12, 2019 • Faculty Commentary, Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho [originally posted on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog on February 12, 2019]


    In the previous post, I introduced main finding of the recent McKinsey report (“Globalization in Transition: The Future of Trade and Value Chains.”)  The report highlighted the growing importance of services and the relative decline of goods production in global value chains (GVCs).  Likewise, GVCs have become more technology and knowledge-intensive.  In addition, “regional” value chains have become prominent as emerging economies mature and are now capable of insourcing more of intermediate products, which they used to import from advanced economies.  Then, what would be possible implications of those new phenomena to the WTO? (more…)

    Are Trade Wars Missing the Point? (Part I)

    by  • February 6, 2019 • Faculty Commentary, Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho [originally posted on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog on February 5, 2019]


    The answer might be in the affirmative according to the recent report by McKinsey Global Institute, titled “Globalization in Transition: The Future of Trade and Value Chains.”  Here is a summary of its main findings.

    1. “Goods-producing value chains have grown less trade-intensive.”
    2. “Services play a growing and undervalued role in global value chains.”
    3. “Trade based on labor-cost arbitrage is declining in some value chains.”
    4. “Global value chains are growing more knowledge-intensive.”
    5. “Value chains are becoming more regional and less global.”

    On its face, this report might seem to play the same gloomy tune as “slowbalization.”  However, the McKinsey report does not equate this new phenomenon with the decline of globalization.  On the contrary, it attributes the phenomenon as the economic maturation of emerging economies, such as China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, which are “now consuming more of what they produce.”  By 2030, developing countries’ consumption will exceed a half of global consumption. (more…)

    The Dawn of the e-WTO

    by  • January 27, 2019 • Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho


    On the sidelines of the Davos World Economic Forum this week, seventy six WTO member countries agreed to launch a negotiation on electronic commerce.  Yes, we all know that e-commerce has recently been skyrocketing, becoming part of our everyday lives.  Meanwhile, the WTO has been criticized for having failed to provide effective multilateral rules to regulate e-commerce.  I see a bit of déjà vu from the Uruguay Round here, in particular within the context of the North-South tension.  Developed countries such as the United States, the European Union and Japan are spearheading this new initiative, while developing countries such as China and India seem to be lukewarm about the initiative.  China joined the initiative with the reservation that developing countries’ concerns must be reflected. India argued that the Doha Development Round must be addressed before starting a new set of negotiations in the WTO. (more…)

    The Resiliency of the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism (Or Not)

    by  • January 12, 2019 • Faculty Commentary, Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Cho_Sungjoon thumbBy Sungjoon Cho [originally posted on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog on January 10, 2019]


    Many worry that the current United States–China trade wars, and negotiations therefrom, might undermine the WTO dispute settlement mechanism (DSM).  Curiously, however, both the United States and China have not completely bypassed the WTO DSM.

    In fact, both countries have invoked the WTO DSM in tandem with their unilateral/bilateral engagements outside of the WTO.  For example, China sued the United States for the latter’s punitive tariffs against the former (here and here).  The United States also filed a complaint against China regarding the latter’s alleged violation of TRIPS, in addition to its execution of the Section 301 procedure on the same complaint.

    One might surmise that the U.S.’ such actions are in contrast to its recent blocking of new Appellate Body members.  So, can we say comfortably that the WTO DSM is resilient?  Or, are these all about merely anteing up political rhetoric?

    New Book by Professor William Birdthistle Critiques Mutual Funds Industry and How Americans Save for Retirement

    by  • June 29, 2016 • Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Empire of the Fund book cover artIn his new book, Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now (Oxford University Press 2016), Professor William Birdthistle exposes and critiques what he calls the richest and riskiest experiment in our nation’s financial history. He illustrates the flaws in the hypothesis of that experiment: that millions of ordinary, untrained, and busy citizens can successfully manage trillions of dollars in a financial system governed by powerful financial institutions.

    Professor Birdthistle explores the obstacles that individual investors face when using mutual funds to save and offers three solutions for how to safeguard their individual financial destinies as well as the nation’s fiscal strength.

    A single generation ago, many Americans enjoyed the prospects of paying for their golden years with a steady stream of income from their pension plans. Today, only 3 percent of U.S. private-sector workers are covered solely by pensions, while one-third of American households have no retirement savings at all. With the demise of pensions and the rise of 401(k) plans, Americans today will have to support themselves on the returns however high or low of their personal investment accounts.

    To protect their financial security, Professor Birdthistle argues that Americans will need “a greater understanding of mutual funds, more transparency from the financial firms that manage them, and stronger enforcement by prosecutors of the regulations that govern funds.” He proposes opening the federal Thrift Savings Plan to all Americans so they can benefit from a low-cost, well-run saving plan.

    Find out more about Empire of the Fund at the book’s website, and watch the video trailer of Professor Birdthistle introducing the book in verse.

    New Lee Article: Empirical Study on “Patent Trolls” in Media

    by  • April 27, 2016 • Scholarship • 0 Comments

    Professor Edward Lee, Director of the Program in Intellectual Property Law, has authored a new article titled “Patent Trolls: Moral Panics, Motions in Limine, and Patent Reform.” The article is forthcoming in Stanford Technology Law Review, Vol. 19, 2016.

    Abstract:

    This Article provides the first empirical study of the use of the term “patent troll” by U.S. media-specifically, examining leading newspapers and online publications. The study offers several key findings: (1) First, starting in 2006, the U.S. media surveyed used “patent troll” far more than any other term, despite the efforts of scholars to devise alternative, more neutral-sounding terms. The tipping point was the combination of the controversial Blackberry and eBay patent cases in 2006 — prior to that time, “patent holding company” was the most popular term. (2) Second, the media more often portrayed such patent entities in a one-sided, negative light with very little analysis or empirical support. For example, few works provided statistics or discussion of any studies to support their negative portrayal. Practically no articles mentioned the lack of a working requirement in U.S. patent law, which permits all patentees not to practice their inventions. These findings provide support for the recent judicial decisions that have barred, at trial, the use of the term “patent troll” as unfairly prejudicial.

    Download the paper on SSRN here.

    Gerber Article Wins Antitrust Writing Award

    by  • April 8, 2016 • Scholarship • 0 Comments

    At the 2016 Antitrust Writing Awards Gala Dinner on April 5, Professor David Gerber  was recognized for writing one of the best “Cross-Border” transnational antitrust academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals in 2015.

    During an interview at the event, Professor Gerber discussed “two cloudy subjects” he believes are very important in international antitrust.

    “Global competition law convergence: Potential roles for economics”

    by Distinguished Professor David Gerber

    Research Handbook on Comparative Law and Economics, Chapter 9, 2016

    Read the full chapter