In 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.
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.
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.
Last week, Professor Cesar Rosado Marzán appeared on University of Pennsylvania’s Knowledge@Wharton to discuss the ongoing NLRB labor law disputes with McDonald’s. From the interview:
McDonald’s appears to be in a tight spot, with problems looming whichever direction it goes. “If McDonald’s is found to be liable for the labor law violations of its franchisees, then as a joint employer it could end up at the bargaining table,” said Cesar . . . If, on the other hand, it doesn’t support the franchise operators, he agreed that it might end up earning the latter’s wrath.
Prof. Rosado Marzán continued,
“If McDonald’s is found to be essentially liable for the labor law violations of a franchisee, it means that it’s a joint employer according to the NRA. And if such, then it may end up on the bargaining table if, at some point, McDonald’s workers decide to bargain collectively […] with the corporation.” (more…)