Robert P. Bartlett et al., The Myth of Morrison: Securities Fraud Litigation Against Foreign Issuers, SSRN (2018)

We find that the description of Morrison as a “steamroller” substantially ending litigation against foreign issuers is a myth. Instead, we find that Morrison did not substantially change the type of litigation brought against foreign issuers, which both before and after Morrison focused on foreign issuers with a U.S. listing and substantial U.S. trading volume. While dismissal rates rose post-Morrison we find no evidence that this is related to the decision. Settlement amounts and attorneys’ fees actually rose post-Morrison.

Richard H. Thaler, Nudge, not sludge, 361 Science 431 (2018)

Sunstein and I stressed that the goal of a conscientious choice architect is to help people make better choices “as judged by themselves.” But what about activities that are essentially nudging for evil? This “sludge” just mucks things up and makes wise decision-making and prosocial activity more difficult.

Buying High and Selling Low: Stock Repurchases and Persistent Asymmetric Information

We investigate the consequences of allowing for repeated capital market transactions in a model with asymmetric information between a firm and its investors. All firms in the model possess a profitable project that they need to raise cash to undertake. However, equilibria exist in which firms return cash to investors via share repurchases. Consistent with managerial accounts, some firms directly profit from repurchasing their stock. The ultimate source of these profits is that other firms buy “high” in order to improve the terms of subsequent stock issues, which is again consistent with empirical evidence. Only equilibria with repurchases satisfy a mild refinement. Repurchases lower social welfare by reducing the fraction of firms that invest, even though repurchasing itself carries no deadweight cost. Our model generates a number of empirical predictions.

via Harvard

Influencing Control: Jawboning in Risk Arbitrage

In an “activist risk arbitrage,” a shareholder attempts to change the course of an announced M&A deal through public campaigns, and profits from improved terms. Compared to conventional (passive) risk arbitrageurs, activists target deals susceptible to managerial conflicts of interest (e.g., going-private and “friendly” deals) and deals with lower announcement premiums. Their presence increases the sensitivity of deal completion to market signals. While they block a significant proportion of planned deals, activist arbitrageurs only modestly decrease the probability that the targets will eventually be acquired (including by a third party). Finally, the strategy yields significantly higher returns than passive arbitrage.

via Harvard