• A Critique of 'Tangibility' as the Basis for Property Rules

      Ayres, Ian; Goldbart, Paul (2001-03-09)
      Kaplow and Shavell have recently claimed that property rules tend to protect tangible entitlements more efficiently than do liability rules. They argue that while liability rules tend to efficiently harness the defendant’s private information when courts are imperfectly informed as to litigants’ valuations of intangible entitlements, this harnessing effect does not apply to tangible entitlements for two reasons. First, they argue that the prospect of multiple takings (by others or even the original entitlement holder taking back the entitlement) makes it impossible to implement liability rules with regard to tangible entitlements. Second, they argue that liability rules cannot harness private information when the disputants’ valuations are correlated and that valuations of tangibles tend to be more correlated than valuations of intangibles. In this essay, we reject both the multiple-takings and the correlated-value claims. Our thesis is that, while both present real problems of implementation, the authors’ own harnessing result can be extended to redeem the usefulness of liability rules even when values are correlated and even when there is the prospect of multiple takings. We will show that, even in the presence of these problems, enlightened courts can manipulate the damages that takers expect to pay so as to induce efficient takings. The authors’ numeric examples purporting to show the dominance of property rules systematically understate the potential efficiency of liability rules. Their examples compare the more efficient property rules to liability rules that use inefficient damages and systematically delegate allocative authority to the less efficient litigant. If the more appropriate comparisons are made, in all of Kaplow and Shavell’s examples liability rules (which anticipate non-consensual takings) dominate property rules.
    • Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask: Narrow Tailoring After Grutter and Gratz

      Ayres, Ian; Foster, Sydney (2005-09-01)
      The Supreme Court’s affirmative action decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger changed the meaning of “narrow tailoring.” While the narrow tailoring requirement has always had multiple dimensions, a central meaning has been that the government must use the smallest racial preference needed to achieve its compelling interest. We might have expected, therefore, that if the Court were to uphold one of the two programs at issue in Grutter and Gratz, it would, all other things being equal, uphold the program with smaller racial preferences. We show, however, that the preferences in the admissions program upheld in Grutter were larger than the preferences in the admissions program struck down in Gratz. This result was not necessarily wrong, but the Court’s analysis was wrong. The Grutter and Gratz Courts replaced the “minimum necessary preference” requirement with a requirement that admissions programs provide “individualized consideration,” which we show amounts to a “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask” regime. The Court will not “ask” probing questions about the size and differentiation of preferences as long as the government decisionmaker does not “tell” the Court how much of a racial preference it is giving. Indeed, as an example of the differential standards the Court applied, we demonstrate that while the Court impugned the admissions program at issue Gratz for making race decisive for “virtually every minimally qualified minority applicant,” in fact the fraction of qualified minority applicants for whom race was decisive was smaller in the admissions program struck down in Gratz than it was in the admissions program upheld in Grutter. We call for a return to the minimum necessary preference requirement. Instead of examining whether preferences are “individualized,” courts should determine whether the constitutionally relevant benefits of granting preferences of a given size outweigh the constitutionally relevant costs, both overall and at the margin.
    • Mark(et)ing Nondiscrimination

      Ayres, Ian; Brown, Jennifer (2005-09-01)
    • Optimal Delegation and Decoupling in the Design of Liability Rules

      Ayres, Ian; Goldbart, Paul (2001-03-09)
      The central allocative decision confronting a judge in a nuisance dispute should not concern the identity of the initial entitlement recipient but rather the identity of the more efficient chooser—the litigant who can more efficiently allocate the entitlement. We show that liability rules can produce four basic allocations which differ centrally in the ways in which courts delegate to litigants the authority to ultimately allocate the entitlement. Two classes concern "single chooser" rules that vest (in the absence of an agreement to the contrary) the allocative decision solely in one of the litigants. The other two classes concern a new type of rule, "dual chooser" rules, that allow either party to veto the transfer of an entitlement. Dualchooser rules are more than a theoretical curiosity both because they exist in our current law and because at times they produce systematically greater allocative efficiency than either type of single-chooser rule. Two heads are sometimes better than one. A central result of the paper is that in choosing among different liability rules allocative concerns can be decoupled from distributive concerns. There exist an infinite number of liability rules which produce each of the four basic allocations, but every rule within a particular class divides differently between the litigants the expected value of the allocation. To successfully decouple, courts should at times impose "call option," "put option," "Pay or be Paid," and "Pay or Pay" rules.
    • Should Campaign Donors Be Identified?

      Ayres, Ian (2001-08-29)
      About the only campaign finance issue on which there is a strong consensus is the belief that the law should force candidates to disclose the identity of contributors. A growing group of scholars and advocates believe that mandated disclosure should be the only campaign finance regulation; they argue that other restrictions are counterproductive because they tend to shift money to less accountable forms of political speech such as "independent expenditures" and "issue advocacy." Representative John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) has proposed the "Citizen Legislature and Political Freedom Act" that essentially would repeal all limits on political campaign contributions and merely require immediate disclosure by candidates when they do receive contributions. This type of "pure disclosure" reform has garnered support from a wide spectrum of political activists, from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan. But there exists in our polity a counter-image--the voting booth--that stands against the cult of disclosure. Ballot secrecy was adopted toward the end of the nineteenth century to deter political corruption. Voting booth privacy disrupted the economics of vote buying, making it much more difficult for candidates to buy votes because, at the end of the day, they could never know for sure who voted for them. A similar pro-anonymity argument can be applied to campaign finance. We could harness similar anonymity benefits by creating a "donation booth": a screen that forces donors to funnel campaign contributions through blind trusts that would keep candidates from learning the identity of their supporters. Just as the secret ballot makes it more difficult for candidates to buy votes, mandating anonymous donations through a system of blind trusts might make it harder for candidates to sell access or influence because they would never know which donors had paid the price. Knowledge about whether the other side actually fulfills his or her promise is an important prerequisite for trade. People--including political candidates--are less likely to deal if they are uncertain whether the other side performs.
    • Substitutes for Insider Trading

      Ayres, Ian; Bankman, Joseph (2001-04-02)
      When insider trading prohibitions limit the ability of insiders (or of a corporation itself) to use material non-public information to trade a particular firm’s stock, there may be incentive to use the information to trade instead on the stock of that firm’s rivals, suppliers, customers, or the manufacturers of complementary products. We refer to this form of trading as trading in stock substitutes. Stock substitute trading by a firm is legal. In many circumstance, substitute trading by employees is also legal. Trading in stock substitutes may be quite profitable, and there is anecdotal evidence that employees often engage in such trading. Our analysis suggests that substitute trading is less socially desirable than traditional insider trading. We recommend a set of disclosure rules designed to clarify existing law and provide information on the extent of stock substitute trading. We also discuss possible changes in the law that might limit inefficient trading in stock substitutes.