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…)
By William Birdthistle
Legal scholars, practitioners, and regulators of investment funds have a new learned society to encourage scholarship in their field. The Society of Investment Law is an international organization of academics and attorneys interested in the study of legal issues relating to investors, advisers, and investment funds. The society will host an annual meeting to promote the discussion of developments in this field.
For the past eight years, Professors Tamar Frankel of Boston University School of Law and William Birdthistle of Chicago-Kent College of Law have co-hosted an annual roundtable discussion about developments in investment law. Keynote speakers at those events have included Professor John Coates of Harvard Law School, reporter Daisy Maxey of the Wall Street Journal, Nell Minow of the Corporate Library, Professor Andrew Lo of the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Robert Plaze of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management.
As an institution, the Society of Investment Law will build upon these roundtables to encourage scholarship and discussions about investment law. The society’s founding board of directors includes Frankel, Birdthistle, Coates, and Mercer Bullard of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Quinn Curtis of the University of Virginia School of Law, Deborah DeMott of Duke University School of Law, Jennifer Taub of Vermont Law School, Dirk Zetzsche of the University of Liechtenstein, and John Morley of Yale Law School. The inaugural officers of the society are Frankel as chair of the board, Birdthistle as president, Morley as vice president, and Taub as secretary.
The society’s official web site is http://societyofinvestmentlaw.org.
Over the past century we have steadily shifted more resources, both intellectual and monetary, to preserving historic properties and protecting cultural heritage. More recently we have added to this preservation focus increasing concerns about who is entitled to define and lay claim to material culture from the past. Here in the United States these debates play out in the context of historic properties, the National Historic Preservation Act, and a variety of legislative acts that protect the cultural heritage of Native Americans. In the international realm these debates focus on the identification and protection of world heritage sites and the illicit movement of antiquities.
Regardless of the separate and at times even conflicting legal regimes that govern the preservation of domestic historic properties and international cultural heritage, they share some of the same historic and cultural roots and give rise to similar issues and questions. Why do we put so much stock in the preservation of our material culture and built environments, even at the expense of other social and economic goals? How do we define what is worth saving and whose voices are privileged in that process? How do we reconcile the communal goals at the heart of preservation with concerns about protecting private property and sovereignty?
This one-day conference will explore these issues through a cross-disciplinary discussion between leaders in the fields of archeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and law.
The Politics of Preservation
Friday, April 29, 2016
Morris Hall, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 W Adams St, Chicago IL (more…)