Category Archives: Economics

Article: Spaces for Sharing: Micro Units Amid the Shift from Ownership to Access

Article: John Infranca, Spaces for Sharing: Micro Units Amid the Shift from Ownership to Access, 43 Fordham Urb. L.J. (forthcoming).

This article, written for the Fordham Urban Law Journal’s symposium entitled Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy, explores the interaction between the sharing or peer-to-peer economy and new forms of housing, particularly micro-units. Certain components of the sharing economy, such as car sharing and co-working, rely on sufficient demand, typically produced by residents within close proximity to an asset-hub. Trade in the idle capacity of privately-owned goods frequently depends upon potential users sufficiently nearby to render sharing convenient. Land use regulations that permit development of micro-units may increase density to levels that better support a sharing economy infrastructure. The sharing economy is also frequently invoked to explain consumer demand for such units – as potential residents choose to forego space and rely on shared resources. Developers have sought to make micro-units more attractive to potential residents by providing access, sometimes on-site, to car and bicycle sharing. Such resources also may ease worries of neighbors concerned about increased density and some local governments have begun to consider the provision of sharing economy infrastructure in the land use approval process. In addition, certain new forms of residential development more expressly incorporate a culture of sharing and at times explicitly identify as a component of the sharing economy.

This article sketches out some of the theoretical and practical implications of the relationship between micro-units and housing more generally and the sharing economy. Even as many micro-unit residents embrace the sharing economy to complement their small living spaces, these units provide residents with an alternative to perhaps the simplest form of contemporary property sharing – living with roommates. They represent a turn away from certain informal sharing of property (kitchen items and food, living room furniture, music and book collections) towards more formal sharing through the peer-to-peer economy. The new exchanges of personal property facilitated by the sharing economy thereby simultaneously enable the increased privatization of an individual’s residence.

As the sharing economy reshapes cities it is also changing the types of housing demanded by urban residents. This article suggests that as cities revise existing regulations to respond to both the growing demand for micro-units and the expanding role of the sharing economy in urban areas, they should more carefully consider the potential synergies between these phenomena.

Article: Resurrecting Labor

Article: Richard A. Bales, Resurrecting Labor77 Maryland L. Rev. (forthcoming).

Participation in American labor unions have changed radically, albeit incrementally, over the last fifty years. Private‐sector union density has declined five‐fold, whereas public‐sector density has increased almost as significantly. Today, unions rarely strike and in much of the country they are politically impotent. As traditional manufacturing declines and is replaced by on‐demand work, unions risk becoming a historical footnote.

This article ties the decline in union density and power to macroeconomic trends that are highly troubling in an advanced democracy, such as rising income inequality and the failure of wage growth to keep pace with GDP growth. It next reviews the traditional prescriptions that labor scholars have advocated to reverse labor’s decline. Finally, it proposes three new radical fixes: authorizing criminal prosecution for willful violations of labor law, expanding labor protections to on‐demand workers, and reversing the legal presumption that workers are not represented by a union unless they affirmatively opt in.

Article: Should the Law Do Anything About Economic Inequality?

Article: Matthew Dimick, Should the Law Do Anything About Economic Inequality?, SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-011 (2016).

What should be done about rising income and wealth inequality? Should the design and adoption of legal rules take into account their effects on the distribution of income and wealth? Or should the tax-and-transfer system be the exclusive means to address concerns about inequality? A widely-held view argues for the latter: only the tax system, and not the legal system, should be used to redistribute income. While this argument comes in a variety of normative arguments and has support across the political spectrum, there is also a well-known law-and-economics version. This argument, known as the “double-distortion” argument, is simply stated. Legal rules that redistribute income only add to the economic distortions that are already present in the tax system. It would therefore be better for everyone, and especially the poor, to instead adopt an efficient, nonredistributive legal rule, and increase redistribution through the tax system.

This Article challenges the double-distortion argument from a law-and-economics perspective. There are two main arguments, in addition to several other subsidiary points. First, in the abstract, there is no reason to believe that legal rules that have redistributive effects will always reduce efficiency; indeed, they can sometimes increase efficiency. Examples from the regulation of product markets, labor markets, and financial markets underscore this claim. In these cases, legal redistribution is more efficient than redistribution through the tax system. Second, legal rules are likely to be more attractive than taxation precisely in cases where inequality itself or normative concerns about inequality is high. Under the optimal tax policy, higher inequality or greater concern about inequality will justify larger tax distortions. Therefore, a particular legal rule is more likely to be more efficient than the optimal tax policy under these circumstances. The ultimate conclusion is that a mix of legal rules and taxation, rather than taxation exclusively, will be the best way to address economic inequality.

New Article: “Special Economic Zones in the United States: From Colonial Charters, to Foreign-Trade Zones, Toward USSEZs”

New Article: Tom W. Bell, Special Economic Zones in the United States: From Colonial Charters, to Foreign-Trade Zones, Toward USSEZs, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 959 (2016).  Abstract below:

Special economic zones (SEZs) have a long and complicated relationship with the United States. The lineage of the country runs back to proto-SEZs, created when Old World governments sold entrepreneurs charters to build for-profit colonies in the New World, such as Jamestown and New Amsterdam. In more recent times, though, the United States has lagged behind the rest of the globe in tapping the potential of SEZs, which have exploded in number, types, territory, and population. True, the US hosts a large and growing number of Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZs), but these do little more than exempt select companies from federal customs obligations. Elsewhere, SEZs have done much more to increase jurisdictional competition and improve citizens’ lives. Consider the SEZs that spread from Hong Kong throughout China, lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty in the process, or the huge private developments now taking root in Africa, the Middle East, and India. This paper proposes that the United States combine the best of foreign and domestic policies to create a new generation of SEZs. These United States Special Economic Zones (USSEZs) would arise on federally owned property, such as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and generate sorely needed public funds by selling territorial exemptions from select state and federal taxes, laws, and regulations. Through USSEZs, special jurisdictions might bring economic growth, human welfare, and individual freedom back to America.

Article: The Mapmaker’s Dilemma in Evaluating High-End Inequality

Article:  Daniel Shaviro, The Mapmaker’s Dilemma in Evaluating High-End Inequality, New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers (2016).

The last thirty years have witnessed rising income and wealth concentration among the top 0.1 percent of the population, leading to intense political debate regarding how, if at all, policymakers should respond. Often, this debate emphasizes the tools of public economics, and in particular optimal income taxation. However, while these tools can help us in evaluating the issues raised by high-end inequality, their extreme reductionism – which, in other settings, often offers significant analytic payoffs – here proves to have serious drawbacks. This paper addresses what we do and don’t learn from the optimal income tax literature regarding high-end inequality, and what other inputs might be needed to help one evaluate the relevant issues.

News Article: Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals

News Article: Neil Irwin, Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals, N.Y. Times (Apr. 15, 2017).

 

News Article: How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income

News Article: Steven Pearlstein, How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income, Washington Post (Mar. 24, 2017).

Article: Countering Neoliberalism and Aligning Solidarities: Rethinking Domestic Violence Advocacy

Article: Deborah M. Weissman, Countering Neoliberalism and Aligning Solidarities: Rethinking Domestic Violence Advocacy, Southwestern University L. Rev. (forthcoming).

This article seeks to situate domestic violence in a larger analytical frame of the political economic, to extend institutional responsibility for violence beyond the criminal justice system, and to form common bonds with other social justice initiatives. It argues that improved remedies for domestic violence victims lie within the reform of the political economy. It examines the efficacy of integrating anti-domestic violence initiatives into realms of work and labor and issues pertaining to the financialization of everyday life, as a way to engage larger questions bearing on economic justice and structural social change. The relationship between domestic violence and political economy is under-theorized and constrained by prevailing neoliberal paradigms. Moreover, deepening wealth inequality in capitalist societies has produced new forms of suffering within families, which underscores the need for diverse constituencies to act in concert and in common political cause. Shifting domestic violence strategies so that they operate within the frame of the political economy may generate greater opportunities for coalition building for and with domestic violence advocates.

The relevance of economic security has loomed large in domestic violence advocacy, to be sure. It has been properly identified as a critical factor that determines whether a victim can escape domestic violence. However, advocacy in this area has been often circumscribed by a narrow focus on individual circumstances, reliance on a residualist welfare state that perceives dependency on public assistance as moral deficiency. Too often economic justice initiatives designed to mitigate domestic violence have been fitted neatly within neoliberal economics that fail to provide meaningful social change. These responses have failed to challenge such policies while discounting the full impact of the neoliberal model on one’s ability to escape domestic violence.

This article relies on the scholarship that considers the impact of neoliberalism on law and social justice claims to provide a contextual examination of the ways in which the constraints of neoliberalism hinder efforts to address laws gender-based violence. It describes and then critiques current economic-related strategies offered by the state and the market designed to improve outcomes for victims of domestic violence and questions the “sources of submission” by domestic violence advocates to a neoliberal pragmatic. It offers proposals to advance economic security in ways that join domestic violence advocacy with other forms of socio-economic advocacy that provide additional progressive promise, but does so cautiously as “[n]eoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely invisible.” It suggests that transforming the ways in which attention is paid to economic concerns provides a complementary if not alternative way of understanding and addressing the phenomenon of domestic violence through the broad perspective of socio-economic justice.

Note: Panhandling Regulation After Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Note: Anthony D. Lauriello, Panhandling Regulation After Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 116 Columbia L. Rev. 1105 (2016).

In Reed v. Town of Gilbert the Supreme Court rearticulated the standard for when regulation of speech is content based. This determination has already had a large impact on cases involving panhandling regulations and is likely to result in the invalidation of the majority of this nation’s panhandling laws.

This Note will begin with a discussion of First Amendment doctrine and how panhandling is protected speech. This Note will then demonstrate that it is helpful to think of panhandling regulations categorically and explore how these categories of panhandling laws have fared in lower courts. This Note will then discuss the holding in Reed and how jurisdictions have already begun to invalidate panhandling laws.  Finally, this Note proposes using the captive audience doctrine to uphold the validity of some salutary panhandling regulations while in­val­idating laws that are burdensome and oppressive to free expression.

Article: Student Debt and Higher Education Risk

Article: Jonathan D. Glater, Student Debt and Higher Education Risk, 103 Cal. L. Rev. 1561 (2015).

To borrow for college is to take a risk. Indebted students may not earn enough to repay their loans after they graduate or, worse, may fail to graduate at all. For students who cannot pay for college without borrowing, this risk is both a disincentive and a penalty. Greater risk undermines the efficacy of federal financial aid policy that seeks to promote access to higher education. This Essay situates education borrowing within a larger cultural and political trend toward placing risk on individuals and criticizes this development for its failure to achieve any of the typical goals of legislation that allocates risk—such as prevention of moral hazard or other, particular public policy outcomes.

The Essay describes dramatic increases in student borrowing and explains the negative effects of greater reliance on debt, which increases the risk of investing in higher education. The Essay contends that recognizing student debt as a mechanism that transfers risk bolsters criticisms of increased borrowing and provides a consistent way to evaluate aid policy. The Essay outlines an insurance regime as the logical response to undesirable or unmanageable risk. Such a regime would preserve access to higher education and mitigate the danger of borrowing for college.