Six Months Isn’t ‘Long Term’

An op-ed by Robert C. Pozen and Mark J. Roe. President Trump tweeted on Friday that he had directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to study a suggestion from a business leader, later revealed as outgoing Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi : “Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system.” The popular theory is that quarterly reporting discourages firms from making long-term investments. But switching to semiannual reporting wouldn’t help. Find us CEOs with stockpiles of good, long-term projects that they are not pursuing—but that they would, if only they had three extra months to report earnings. Reporting every six months is nobody’s definition of “long term.” Besides, investors have waited patiently as Amazon, Netflix and many biotech firms have followed long-term strategies.

First Crack at Musk Could Give Top Tesla Funds an Edge

Information about Elon Musk’s efforts to take Tesla Inc private is scarce. But some small investors wonder if top funds have an edge…Harvard Law School professor John Coates said U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules on fair disclosure allow the selective sharing of some details if recipients agree not to trade until what they are told becomes public. But it is hard to know how those limits might play out for Musk’s outreach. “With Tesla however nothing normal is normal. So who knows,” Coates said via email.

The End of Quarterly Reporting? Not Much to Cheer About

President Trump proposed Friday that public companies should report their financial results only twice a year instead of quarterly…“If companies report only every six months, then there could be more damage, not less,” says Mark Roe, a professor of corporate and business law at Harvard Law School. Without quarterly updates, “the stock price could drift even farther out of whack from fundamentals, and then the temptation for management to distort earnings could potentially be even greater.”

Trump issues rollback of Obama’s biggest climate rule

The Trump administration rolled out its proposal for gutting former President Barack Obama’s most sweeping climate change regulation Tuesday — a move that could also block any future Democratic president from trying to put it back together….Former Obama White House climate aide Jody Freeman expressed some concern that the court battle to follow could leave EPA with diminished authority to regulate greenhouse gases at all, unless Congress steps in with a new law. “There’s certainly a legal pathway in which a court could lock in such a narrow reading that it would be very problematic for a future administration,” said Freeman, who is now director of Harvard Law School’s environment and energy program. “There’s also a pathway in which a court could uphold what one administration does and leave room for another to change its mind.”

Ban ‘killer robots’ to protect fundamental moral and legal principles

A conversation with Bonnie Docherty. When drafting a treaty on the laws of war at the end of the 19th century, diplomats could not foresee the future of weapons development. But they did adopt a legal and moral standard for judging new technology not covered by existing treaty language. This standard, known as the Martens Clause, has survived generations of international humanitarian law and gained renewed relevance in a world where autonomous weapons are on the brink of making their own determinations about whom to shoot and when. The Martens Clause calls on countries not to use weapons that depart “from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience.”

Two Small Nudges Help Cut Back on Opioid Prescriptions

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. A major source of the opioid crisis is overprescribing by well-meaning doctors who want to relieve patients’ pain, but are insufficiently focused on the risks. Could behavioral economics help change that — and save lives?…What can be done? Led by the University of Southern California’s Jason Doctor, a team of researchers found a dramatic way to nudge doctors to reduce opioid prescriptions. Their starting point was simple: When patients die, clinicians often don’t find out.

Don McGahn Served His Own Interests, Not the President’s

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Lawyers are not supposed to disclose conversations with their clients, at least not without a fight over attorney-client confidentiality. Senior presidential advisers aren’t supposed to discuss consultations with their boss, at least not without first asserting executive privilege. Yet we now know, thanks to the New York Times, that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation of Donald Trump. Why is the world of normal procedures being turned upside down? There’s a technical answer; and then there’s the deeper logic (or illogic) behind it: the bizarre nature of decision-making in the Trump presidency.

Monsanto Roundup appeal has uphill climb on ‘junk science’ grounds: legal experts

Bayer AG unit Monsanto faces long odds on an appeal blaming an “inflamed” jury and “junk science” for a verdict of $289 million in damages to a man who said the company’s Roundup weed killer caused his cancer, according to some legal experts…David Rosenberg, a professor at Harvard Law School, said editorializing by lawyers in a courtroom needed to be truly egregious for a judge to even consider throwing out a verdict. “Such remarks are part of the game during trials and I can’t see a single reason why Monsanto would think an appeal would be helpful on those grounds,” Rosenberg said.

Trump Asks SEC To Study How Often Corporations Are Required To Report Earnings

Trump says he wants to consider requiring companies to report their earnings every six months instead of every three. It would ultimately cut back on the amount of paperwork companies have to contend with, but it would also mean investors would get updated less often about how a company is doing. [Mark Roe] is a professor at Harvard Law School…”The problem is if the firm has gone dark for six months instead of three months, the chances of the stock market’s expectations being out of line with what really happens increases.”

Manafort Lawyers Rest Without Calling Witnesses in Fraud Trial

Paul Manafort’s lawyers declined Tuesday to call any witnesses to defend him against charges of bank and tax fraud. Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, also told the judge that he did not want to testify, clearing the way for closing arguments from both sides and the start of jury deliberations on Wednesday. The decision by the defense to rest without presenting its own evidence was not unusual. “The defense believes it has made its point through cross-examination,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and a former federal judge.