An article by Sean Mirski [`15]. Centuries ago, Chinese fishermen referred to the isles of the South China Sea as “magnetic rocks”—a morbid allusion to the uncanny force that drew ships to unlucky fates on the shoals. Today, however, the South China Sea attracts a different kind of trouble. For the last six decades, the Sea has been the center of a geopolitical maelstrom fueled by great power politics, toxic nationalism, and bountiful petroleum reserves. Six different parties – Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam – feud with each other over both the South China Sea’s insular territories and their surrounding waters.
Our times have gone mad for metrics. Now, have you ever compared the number of honey-producing bee colonies in the United States with the marriage rate in Vermont or seen any correlation between the divorce rate in Maine and the consumption of margarine? Well, that’s what the Spurious Correlations blog tries to do by plotting completely unrelated sets of data. It’s the project of Tyler Vigen [`16]. He’s a geospatial intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army National Guard and a law student at the Harvard Law School.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s speech before a Jewish charity over the weekend, in which he never mentioned Israel, was essentially a campaign speech that had no place at the event, renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz says. “I thought it was a stump speech. It was somewhat inappropriate for a charitable event which had Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, everybody talking about people who do a great deal of good to the world,” Dershowitz told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on Newsmax TV’s “America’s Forum.”
An op-ed by Mark Roe. Since the global financial crisis, regulators have worked hard to make the world’s big banks safer. The fundamental problem is well known: major banks have significant incentives to take on excessive risk. If their risky bets pay off, their stockholders benefit considerably, as do the banks’ CEOs and senior managers, who are heavily compensated in bank stock. If they do not pay off and the bank fails, the government will probably pick up the tab. This confluence of economic incentives to take on risk makes bank managers poor guardians of financial safety. They surely do not want their bank to fail; but, if the potential upside is large enough, it is a risk they may find worth taking.
The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation recently issued a rather odd and in my view nakedly self-serving report, decrying its contention that the competitiveness of the US equity capital markets is showing continued signs of weakness, and concluding that measures of aversion to US public equity markets are at levels not seen since the global financial crisis. “The competitive landscape of US equity capital markets has started 2014 with a thud,” said CCMR director Hal Scott, Nomura Professor and Director of the Program on International Financial Systems at Harvard Law School. “Foreign companies are choosing to raise capital outside US public markets at rates not seen since the financial crisis.”
Harvard Law School Professor Steven Shavell received the 2014 Ronald H. Coase Medal from the American Law and Economics Association at its annual meeting May 9. Shavell is the Samuel R. Rosenthal Professor of Law and Economics and director of the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Business at Harvard Law School.
An op-ed by Nancy Gertner. Anyone of a certain age remembers Willie Horton. Furloughed in 1986 from a life sentence for murder, Horton, who is black, raped a white woman and assaulted her fiancé. But Horton’s legacy extends beyond the horrific crime he committed. Many have blamed Governor Michael Dukakis’s failed presidential bid that year on publicity surrounding the case. Less often discussed is how far Horton’s crime set back criminal justice reform in Massachusetts — and still does to this day.
A book review by Cass R. Sunstein. When I joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School in 1981, there were two defining figures: Richard Posner and Richard Epstein. Posner was the world’s most important voice in the emerging field of “law and economics.” At the time he believed that courts should “maximize wealth.” Epstein, a defender of personal autonomy with strong libertarian inclinations, was Posner’s most vocal critic. At the University of Chicago Law School lunch table, where the faculty ate four times each week, the two had some fierce struggles. Tempers flared. No one who was there will forget those lunches, which sometimes seemed like a form of combat.
The Disrupt panel, including visiting scholar Maya Harris, talks about New Hampshire police commissioner Robert Copeland, who called President Obama a racial slur.
Lawrence Lessig may be the greatest radical at work in America today. Lessig, a polymath, professor at Harvard Law School, is not ivory tower type. He is a radical — someone who strikes at the root of things — in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson.