has a great economics department and a great law school. Really they do, just ask them and they will
tell you. In fact the Nobel Prize in
Economics has been awarded many times to a University of Chicago Chicago economist because, well, we really
don’t know why and those who make the selections probably don’t know either.
The claim to fame of the University of Chicago economics department and law school is their belief in a market driven economy that needs little or no regulation. That’s right, despite all evidence to the contrary they believe that the market will not allow things like dangerous products to be sold, or for financial institutions to take such risks with investor’s money that they fail (and have to be bailed out by taxpayers).
Chicago-style free-market economics is an easy target for satire, but the movement that flourished at the
department in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s really did change the world. Giants
such as Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, and Eugene Fama provided
the intellectual foundation for the political philosophy of President Ronald
Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In his approach to tax
cuts and deregulation, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is an heir
to that tradition. University
The law school in recent years has become enamored with the economics folks, and the concept of law and economics together is a force that Chicago faculty have created.
Last October, Dean Michael Schill announced a major initiative to deal with the challenges, to capitalize on the school’s place in history, and to keep law and economics relevant for the 21st century. He called it, predictably, Law and Economics 2.0. “Just as
was at the forefront of the first wave of law and economics, so it shall be in
the future,” he wrote to alumni. Chicago
In what has to be regarded as the most ridiculous attempt ever to combine law and economics, we have this from law professor Todd Henderson.
Chicago Law professor Todd Henderson proposes paying bank examiners in part with “phantom” securities linked to the banking companies they regulate. The phantom bonds, essentially derivatives, would rise and fall in concert with a bank’s debt. If banks took too much risk, regulators would feel a hit to their own wealth. To keep regulators from getting so cautious that they ban legitimate transactions,
would throw some phantom stock into their pay packages as well. “There is no
reason we can think of why bank regulators should not be paid for performance,”
he wrote in the spring 2012 issue of Regulation, a magazine published by
the libertarian Cato Institute. Henderson
Really, he seriously (at least we think he is serious, the Cato Institute is known for many things, a sense of humor is not one of them) thinks regulators should have a economic stake in the companies they regulate! Gosh what could go wrong there?
Actually Professor Henderson has done the world a great favor. He and his proposals will be the standard case history of why it is never, ever a good idea to bring theoretical professional academics into the real world. And yes, if this was all just a joke, then yes, we were fooled. But it probably is not, just because something sounds like a joke doesn’t make it a joke, just look at Conservative proposals for improving the
U. S. economy.
As for Dean Shill, if this is Law and Economics 2.0 you really, really need to move quickly to Law and Economics 3.0. Your beta testing of Law and Economics 2.0 flunked.