The Business of Bigness

brandeisLast summer, Eric Dash of the New York Times wrote an excellent article on the problems associated with big business in the U.S.  Dash noted that almost 100 years ago, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote prophetically about the “curse of bigness.”  Justice Brandeis denounced generally the influence that big business had on U.S. politics and its economy.

Today, Brandies’s “curse of bigness” is incorporated into the less pejorative term for large U.S. companies — companies that are “too big to fail.”  Certainly in light of the recent U.S. financial crisis, people are well aware of the influence that these large U.S. companies have on U.S. politics and its economy.   But these “too big to fail” companies may also be creating moral hazards in business operations, and the U.S. has yet to establish a unified system for dealing with the business of bigness. 

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Proxy Amendments and Short-Term Shareholders

Conference roomFirst, thank you for the invitation to be the March Student Blogger.  I have significant experience in blogs.  But perhaps unfortunately for this blog, that experience is restricted to Nebraska football and Lost blogs.  And I don’t think this is the proper forum for discussions of the Huskers’ 2011 recruiting class or how the Valenzetti Equation may answer all your questions regarding Lost.  However, I am open to requests during my March tenure.

Moving on.

Several blogs on this site have addressed election issues and reform in the judicial and political spheres.   Yet, despite imminent changes with regard to the election of corporate directors, any discussion of corporate election reform has been noticeably absent.  I do not doubt that the rules regarding the election of directors will change significantly this year.

Specifically, on June 10, 2009, the SEC published proposed amendments to the federal proxy rules that would facilitate shareholders’ ability to nominate directors to company boards of directors. Under the current director election rules, shareholders seeking to nominate a competing slate of director candidates have to bear all costs of a proxy campaign.  Yet, all costs for the campaigns of the incumbent board’s nominees are paid for out of corporate funds.  That advantage to the board’s nominees coupled with the significant costs in mounting a proxy contest serve as effective barriers to dissident shareholders seeking to initiate an election contest.

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