The Faculty Podcast

Listen to lectures by—and discussions with—the University of Chicago Law School's eminent faculty, as well as some very special guests.

March 11, 2011

It is widely believed today that the free market is the best mechanism ever invented to efficiently allocate resources in society. Just as fundamental is the belief that government has a legitimate and competent role in policing and punishing. The result, in this country, has been an incendiary combination of laissez faire and mass incarceration. Today, the United States incarcerates over one percent of its adult population, the highest number and rate in the world. In this CBI, Professor Harcourt will trace the birth of the idea of natural orderliness in economic thought and its gradual evolution into today’s myth of the free market, and explore how it could possibly have produced the largest government-run penal sphere on the globe.

This talk was recorded on February 21, 2011, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Bernard Harcourt is Julius Kreeger Professor of Law & Criminology and Chair and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

Interested in this topic? Discuss it with the author on Goodreads.

February 24, 2011

This panel was recorded April 24, 2010 as part of the conference "Creating Capabilities," held at the University of Chicago Law School and organized by James Heckman, Martha Nussbaum and Robert Pollak.

Directions for Law and Policy: Social Norms, Families, Legislation, Courts
Once we have a sense of what our goals are and what forms of intervention might be effective, we still need to think about social and political structure: what can law do, by contrast to informal social norms and families?  In the realm of law, what roles can one see for courts, legislation, and administrative agencies?  For family policy and family privacy?

  • Chair: Eric Posner
  • Emily Buss
  • Steven Durlauf
  • Robert Ellickson
February 10, 2011

Patents encourage innovation by granting inventors exclusive rights to sell their inventions. The resulting monopoly profits are a reward for innovation. It is commonly thought, however, that these monopoly profits price some consumers of inventions out of the market. This loss of consumption is an “efficiency” cost of patents. Thus, according to the conventional wisdom an optimal patent regime should balance the value of innovation to those who can purchase it against the efficiency cost of lost consumption to those who cannot purchase it. In our CBI talk, we question whether patents result in foregone consumption and reject the conventional tradeoff that drives optimal patent policy. We argue that there exist contractual mechanisms, such as health insurance and patent pools, that mitigate or stop consumers from being priced out of the market for innovations. Instead, the main concern with patents is that it transfers wealth from consumers to inventors. Anup Malani is Professor of Law and Aaron Director Research Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School and Jonathan Masur is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded January 24, 2011 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

January 28, 2011

The 2011 Coase Lecture in Law and Economics was presented by Thomas J. Miles , Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School, on January 25, 2011.

January 13, 2011

This panel was part of the conference Democracy and Gender Equality in the Muslim World, organized by Martha Nussbaum and Madhavi Sunder on May 8, 2009. Speakers included:

  • Moderator: Emily Buss, Fried Professor of Law, University of Chicago
  • Zainah Anwar, Project Director for the Global Movement for Justice and Equality in the Muslim Family
  • Janet Halley, Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  • Havva Guney Ruebenacker, Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate
  • Sylvia Vatuk, Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago
December 16, 2010

Institutional investors, because of their relatively larger ownership stakes, have more incentive than retail investors to monitor the companies in which they invest, particularly if it is costly to exit. Since owning shares in a well-governed firm reduces an investor’s own monitoring costs and also may provide higher liquidity and lower associated trading costs, such investments are attractive to institutional investors. In a recent study, Visiting Professor Alicia Davis finds that higher governance quality, as defined by a metric that heavily weights internal governance factors (e.g., board composition), is associated with higher proportions of institutional trading and ownership. This finding is consistent with the presence of a corporate governance clientele effect and the reasonable conjecture that institutions have more reason to prefer well-governed companies than retail investors. However, Davis also finds that higher governance quality, as defined by a metric focused on external governance (i.e., exposure to the market for corporate control), is associated with higher proportions of trading and ownership by individuals. It is unlikely that retail investors have a stronger aversion to firms with antitakeover protections in place than institutions, so this result is unlikely due to the presence of a corporate governance clientele effect. One possible explanation lies beyond investor governance preferences. Retail investors, in general, are more loyal to management than their institutional counterparts. This often makes individual investors key players in close votes accompanying battles for corporate control and firms with large retail shareholder bases, on the margin, less attractive takeover targets. Therefore, the presence of retail investors may function as a partial substitute for antitakeover defenses. The fact that the study’s overall findings hold only for firms that pay dividends--and the ones therefore more likely to engender retail investor loyalty--lends support to this view. This talk was recorded on November 16, 2010 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

December 2, 2010

The spectacular rise and fall of the housing market over the past decade has shaken the foundations of virtually every aspect of our economy. In this CBI, Dean Schill will briefly survey the causes and consequences of the "mortgage meltdown." With the current crisis as a backdrop, he will focus on two or three topics related to his research interests which include (1) whether legal and policy incentives for home ownership are desirable, (2) ; whether the structure of mortgage law makes sense and (3) the advantages and disadvantages of proposals for resolving the current mortgage crisis. This talk was recorded November 9, 2010, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Michael Schill is Dean and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

November 18, 2010

This panel was recorded on December 5, 2009 as part of the conference "Markets, Firms and Property Rights: A Celebration of the Research of Ronald Coase." The conference brought together a group of scholars to honor the life and research of Ronald Coase. 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Coase’s seminal paper on the Federal Communications Commission. 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of his paper on “The Problem of Social Cost,” and his 100th birthday.

The panel included:

Kevin Murphy, University of Chicago

Competence as a Random Variable: One More Tribute to Ronald Coase
Richard A. Epstein, University of Chicago

R.H. Coase and the Neoclassical Model of the Economic System
Harold Demsetz, UCLA

Measuring Coase's Influence
William Landes, University of Chicago

The event was sponsored by the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, the Information Economy Project at George Mason University, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the China Center for Economic Research, the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, and the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.

November 4, 2010

Harvey Levin, '75, is the Executive Producer of and TMZ TV. He also is a Host of The People's Court and was Creator and Executive Producer of Celebrity Justice. Mr. Levin has taught at the University of Miami School of Law, Whittier College School of Law, and Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. This talk was recorded on October 18, 2010.

October 21, 2010

Reasonably secure property rights are widely understood as important for economic growth, though it is also understood that interest groups and politicians can benefit from particular configurations of rights. What might change in a world where intellectual property dominates? How should we expect innovators to be motivated in the next century? The history of the evolution of property rights, and of the roles played by courts and legislatures in defining these rights, offers clues about our legal and technological future.

Saul Levmore is William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded October 12, 2010, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.