Put This in Your PIPE . . .

3L Douglas Hoffer has a new paper on SSRN describing and defending “PIPE financing” — a form of corporate financing that has taken off in the past fifteen years.  PIPE financing permits corporations to raise money by selling equity through a two-step process that diminishes the regulatory burdens normally associated with public offerings. 

PIPE deals have drawn negative comments from other scholars and the SEC, but Douglas thinks the critics have failed to appreciate the important benefits of PIPE financing. His paper, entitled “Quagmire: Is the SEC Stuck in a Misguided War Against PIPE Financing?,” will be published in Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law.  The abstract appears after the jump.  

Continue ReadingPut This in Your PIPE . . .

Was an Action against Goldman Sachs Inevitable?

While reading through news on the SEC’s case against Goldman Sachs, I can’t help but wonder if the charge would have been brought regardless of what happened in the market.

The action against Goldman Sachs comes from their arrangement and sale of mortgage backed collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).  In 2006, John Paulson, approached Goldman Sachs with an interest to short housing prices.  Paulson clearly believed at the time, correctly, that housing prices were at unsustainable levels; he believed that there was a bubble in the market, and he wanted to make a bet that prices would decrease.  In order for Paulson to make a bet against housing prices, there needed to be somebody on the other end to make a bet that housing prices were going to increase.  The very essence of a CDO is that there necessarily must be two opposing parties to take different views on a future direction of a product or market. 

Continue ReadingWas an Action against Goldman Sachs Inevitable?

For Finance Industry, a Possible Alternative to the Deregulation-Bust-Bailout-Reregulation Cycle

No one wants a replay of the financial meltdown of the past couple years, but can new regulations really provide a long-term solution?  Periods of heightened regulatory oversight seem inevitably followed by periods of deregulation, while the prospect of government bailouts may create a moral hazard that promotes excessive risk-taking.  Thus, in an interesting new article on SSRN, Shelley Smith suggests an alternative response that does not involve government regulatory agencies.  Her proposal instead focuses on the courts and reform of the law of adhesion contracts — those take-it-or-leave-it agreements that consumers routinely sign without reading or understanding.

Shelley argues that contracts of adhesion played an important role in creating the subprime mortgage mess, as consumers took on ruinous financial obligations without fully understanding the terms of the deals.  She suggests that courts should create stronger incentives for the drafters of contracts of adhesion to make the key terms comprehensible to ordinary consumers.  Thus, she would relax the normal presumption that the terms of the written contract will be strictly enforced where there is reason to doubt whether a reasonable person would have read and understood those terms.  If the “reasonable person” test is not satisfied, and extrinsic evidence fails to establish that the consumer actually received notice of the disputed term, then the court would not enforce the term as written, but would instead treat the case as a “missing term” case.

The article, entitled “Reforming the Law of Adhesion Contracts: A Judicial Response to the Subprime Mortgage Crisis,” is forthcoming in the Lewis and Clark Law Review.  The abstract appears after the jump. 

Continue ReadingFor Finance Industry, a Possible Alternative to the Deregulation-Bust-Bailout-Reregulation Cycle