Friday, 30 January 2009

Short selling: "I don't suppose it's selling shorts?"

A few weeks ago the Times reported about a quiz on financial topics for trainee lawyers starting with the law firm Freshfields (noted on Siemslegal here). Somehow related, today's Times has a very amusing article (available here) on asking ordinary people what they understood by the terms "hedge fund", "derivative", "sub-prime market", "short selling", "fiscal stimulus", "arbitrage" and "quantitative easing". You can pick your own favourites but some answers include:

  • Arbitrage: "It sounds French to me - a new type of blancmange perhaps?"
  • Fiscal stimulus: "Physical stimulus? I was going to say something rude. But it must be something that gets you thinking, something that gets your brain into gear."
  • Sub-prime market: "Sub-prime? Like Subway? The sandwich shop?"
  • Hedge fund: "Well, it's obviously a fund that the Government is obviously putting in place to help businesses out of difficulty."

Friday, 23 January 2009

Three “new” SSRN papers

I just uploaded a new paper on ssrn, entitled “Shareholder, Creditor and Worker Protection: Time Series Evidence about the Differences between French, German, Indian, UK and US Law” (available here).
Abstract: This paper uses a new quantitative methodology (“numerical comparative law”, “leximetrics”) in order to answer the questions of whether there has been convergence, divergence or persistence of for shareholder, creditor, and worker protection, and how this development relates to the Common Law/Civil Law distinction. It is based on new indices which code the legal development of France, Germany, India, the UK and the US from 1970 to 2005. The main result is that one has to distinguish between different areas of law: the laws have converged in shareholder protection, they have diverged in worker protection and in creditor protection converging and diverging trends even out. These results do not depend on the distinction between Civil Law and Common Law countries, because there have been a number of instances where countries of different legal families have converged and countries of the same legal family have diverged.
Moreover, I recently uploaded two of my older contract law articles, namely, “Unevenly Formed Contracts: Ignoring the Mirror of Offer and Acceptance” (available here), and “No Risk, No Fun? Should Spouses Be Advised Before Committing to Guarantees? A Comparative Analysis” (available here). These were originally published in 2004 and 2002. Now, I have fixed some typos (etc.), making these articles somehow acceptable (although, admittedly, they have not really been world-shaking).

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Corporate Ownership and Control

I just return from a very stimulating one-day conference in Cambridge. The departure point was Brian Cheffins’ new book on Corporate Ownership and Control: British Business Transformed. The talks addressed this topic from economic, historical and legal perspectives. Since it was not a conference where most speakers presented a specific paper, I just tried to find out which of their work is most closely related to their talk. Here is the conference outline, and these are my results for David Chamber’s talk, Martin Daunton’s talk, John Turner’s talk, Alan Hughes’ talk, Marco Becht’s talk, Julian Franks’ talk, and Jeffrey Gordon’s talk.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Citations of my research

I just uploaded a document which shows where my books and articles have been cited (available here). This sounds like pure vanity; however, the main reason was really to get some feedback on my past research. Furthermore, it may be interesting to find out whether general insights in citation practices can be established. Based on my own, unrepresentative, work I would sum it up as follows:
  1. Most popular have been my English-language writings on law and finance and the ECJ case law in Centros, and my German-language writings on company law convergence and securities fraud. These topics have in common that they are all very topical - so may have benefited from a general interest in these themes. Conversely, articles where I tried to invent new terms and concepts have received less attention.
  2. It does not appear to be the case that the standing of a journal or the quality of a particular piece have greatly influenced the number of citations. For instance, compare the citations of my articles in the Harvard International Law Journal and the Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law (for a ranking of journals see here). I would also say that my 2001 and 2002 articles on Centros and securities fraud are not really great (in hindsight) but frequently cited – whereas my 2006 Elbonia and my 2004 neoliberalism articles are more original but largely ignored by the world :-(
  3. Despite electronic databases and SSRN there is a clear time-lag: it usually takes a few years until my articles have received a decent number of citations.
  4. There are only very few citations to my English-language articles in the German literature, and to my German-language articles in the English literature. Thus, the legal literature has not really become international.
  5. My German-language books and articles have also been cited by a number of German courts (even by the German Federal Constitutional Court; although I have to disclose that the court strongly disagreed with my ideas) – whereas English-speaking courts have not cited my work (which, given the citation practice of Common Law courts, should not be a surprise).