Sunday, 25 September 2011

Cambridge, Sydney, Hamburg – a few words on the last three weeks

As mentioned earlier on this blog, I have been at academic conference in Cambridge, Sydney and Hamburg in the last three weeks. Back home just two quick comments on each of the events (one substantive one, and one off-topic observation).
  • Cambridge were presentations at the annual seminar of the British Association of Comparative Law (BACL) and the comparative law stream of the 2011 conference of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS). Comments: (i) interesting to see that most comparative law papers were about substance, not method - but that actually confirms my decision that for the book I’m working on there is a need to focus on the method of comparative law. (ii) why is the SLS conference so overpriced? It’s a normal academic conference (not aimed at wealthy practitioners) with fairly small panels in a normal university environment. I’m sorry to say but it will be low on my list of conferences in the years to come …
  • Sydney were a number of events at the UNSW, in particular a workshop on banking systems in crisis and varieties of liberalism. Comments: (i) the more I listen to presentations saying that with the 2008-11 financial crisis we have to re-think everything, the more sceptical I get. For instance, in terms of corporate governance/company law, changes have been fairly marginal, and in 20-30 years time I don’t think that people will regard the current crisis as a moment of paradigm shifts. (ii) Sydney is a great city but the flight, well, very, very long. The solution: it would be great to have something like ‘induced hibernation’ as in the movie 2001 … any business entrepreneurs out there?
  • Hamburg was the 2011 conference of the European Association in Law & Economics (ELEA). Comments: (i) my first ELEA conference: I enjoyed it but kept wondering about the law & economics context since the majority of the papers could also have been presented at other events (some were almost entirely about law, others predominantly economic/empirical with law only playing a minor role). Law & econ has been around for a long time now but at least in Europe it seems still fairly unclear what it is really about. (ii) In one of the presentations it was mentioned that law and economics is often regarded as politically conservative. Well, the irony that did not seem to be noticed was that the conference venue was the building of the (former) HWP which tends to be fairly Marxist (e.g., there is even a quote by Karl Marx in the entrance hall, though this was partly covered by the catering personnel…)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11: what did I do ten years ago?

As so often in the last ten years, I was between flats: having left Edinburgh (where I had studied) but not yet properly arrived in Berlin (where I started working as a lawyer), I stayed with my parents in Munich for a few weeks. Since it was fairly hot, I spent the early afternoon in my old bedroom watching some silly TV show, which was interrupted saying that a small plane hit a skyscraper in NYC. First, I was annoyed that my show was interrupted and I did something else. But then I switched on the TV again and realised what was happening. I told my parents and we kept watching.

Anything else? Well, I just checked my old emails. Since I attended a summer course in Paris in July/August 2011 with many students from the US, on 12 September letter-of-sympathy emails were circulated. But other emails show that normal life continued. I see that I sent a draft article to one of my co-authors in the evening of 11 September – so apparently I did not spent all the time watching TV. There are also a number of emails on finding a flat in Berlin and chatting with former classmates from Edinburgh and Munich in the following days.

So, can I say that 9/11 had an impact on my life? Of course, it shocked me but I would not say that it changed the way I think about, say, freedom and different cultures. Practically, it may impact me in terms of airport security but I did not manage to identify any connection to where I live and work. Yet, there is one very practical consequence relevant for me now: in 2001 the US Fed reduced the interest rates even further to stimulate the economy, following the attacks, which contributed to the housing bubble and then to the 2008-11 financial crisis – the latter being the topic of the conference in Sydney I’m heading off today…. a fairly minor point of course and indeed it’s good to see that the attacks have not succeeded in changing our ways of life.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Talks and conferences: two done, two more to go

I just return from Cambridge where I gave papers at the annual seminar of the British Association of Comparative Law (BACL) and at the 2011 conference of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS). The next two ones will be a bit more demanding in terms of travelling: first, in Sydney a paper related to the Varieties of Liberalism project, and then the 2011 conference of the European Association in Law & Economics in Hamburg. Not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging in the next two weeks …