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When it was first published a quarter of a century ago, Richard Posner's exposition and defense of an economic approach to antitrust law was a jeremiad against the intellectual disarray that then characterized the field. As other perspectives on antitrust law have fallen away, Posner's book has played a major role in transforming the field of antitrust law into a body of economically rational principles largely in accord with the ideas set forth in the first edition. Today's antitrust professionals may disagree on specific practices and rules, but most litigators, prosecutors, judges, and scholars agree that the primary goal of antitrust laws should be to promote economic welfare, and that economic theory should be used to determine how well business practices conform to that goal. In this thoroughly revised edition, Posner explains the economic approach to new generations of lawyers and students. He updates and amplifies his approach as it applies to the developments, both legal and economic, in the antitrust field since 1976. The "new economy," for example, has presented a host of difficult antitrust questions, and in an entirely new chapter, Posner explains how the economic approach can be applied to new industries such as software manufacturers, Internet service providers, and those that provide communications equipment and services. "The antitrust laws are here to stay," Posner writes, "and the practical question is how to administer them better-more rationally, more accurately, more expeditiously, more efficiently. " This fully revised classic will continue to be the standard work in the field.
Judges play a central role in the American legal system, but their behavior as decision makers is not well understood, even among themselves. The system permits judges to be quite secretive (and most of them are), so indirect methods are required to make sense of their behavior. Here, a political scientist, an economist, and a judge work together to construct a unified theory of judicial decision-making. Using statistical methods to test hypotheses, they dispel the mystery of how judicial decisions in district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court are made. The authors derive their hypotheses from a labor-market model, which allows them to consider judges as they would any other economic actors: as self-interested individuals motivated by both the pecuniary and non-pecuniary aspects of their work. In their view, this model describes judicial behavior better than either the traditional "legalist" theory, which sees judges as automatons who mechanically apply the law to the facts, or the current dominant theory in political science, which exaggerates the ideological component in judicial behavior. Ideology does figure into decision-making at all levels of the federal judiciary, the authors find, but its influence is not uniform. It diminishes as one moves down the judicial hierarchy from the Supreme Court to the courts of appeals to the district courts. As The Behavior of Federal Judges demonstrates, the good news is that ideology does not extinguish the influence of other components in judicial decision-making. Federal judges are not just robots or politicians in robes.
Following up on his timely and well-received book, "A Failure of Capitalism," Richard Posner steps back to take a longer view of the continuing crisis of democratic capitalism as the American and world economies crawl gradually back from the depths to which they had fallen in the autumn of 2008 and the winter of 2009. By means of a lucid narrative of the crisis and a series of analytical chapters pinpointing critical issues of economic collapse and gradual recovery, Posner helps non-technical readers understand business-cycle and financial economics, and financial and governmental institutions, practices, and transactions, while maintaining a neutrality impossible for persons professionally committed to one theory or another. He calls for fresh thinking about the business cycle that would build on the original ideas of Keynes. Central to these ideas is that of uncertainty as opposed to risk. Risk can be quantified and measured. Uncertainty cannot, and in this lies the inherent instability of a capitalist economy. As we emerge from the financial earthquake, a deficit aftershock rumbles. It is in reference to that potential aftershock, as well as to the government s stumbling efforts at financial regulatory reform, that Posner raises the question of the adequacy of our democratic institutions to the economic challenges heightened by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis and the government s energetic response to it have enormously increased the national debt at the same time that structural defects in the American political system may make it impossible to pay down the debt by any means other than inflation or devaluation.
Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics criticize judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges to dismiss academic discourse as divorced from reality. Richard Posner reflects on the causes and consequences of this widening gap and what can be done to close it.
A distinguished and experienced appellate court judge, Richard A. Posner offers in this new book a unique and, to orthodox legal thinkers, a startling perspective on how judges and justices decide cases. When conventional legal materials enable judges to ascertain the true facts of a case and apply clear pre-existing legal rules to them, Posner argues, they do so straightforwardly; that is the domain of legalist reasoning. However, in non-routine cases, the conventional materials run out and judges are on their own, navigating uncharted seas with equipment consisting of experience, emotions, and often unconscious beliefs. In doing so, they take on a legislative role, though one that is confined by internal and external constraints, such as professional ethics, opinions of respected colleagues, and limitations imposed by other branches of government on freewheeling judicial discretion. Occasional legislators, judges are motivated by political considerations in a broad and sometimes a narrow sense of that term. In that open area, most American judges are legal pragmatists. Legal pragmatism is forward-looking and policy-based. It focuses on the consequences of a decision in both the short and the long term, rather than on its antecedent logic. Legal pragmatism so understood is really just a form of ordinary practical reasoning, rather than some special kind of legal reasoning. Supreme Court justices are uniquely free from the constraints on ordinary judges and uniquely tempted to engage in legislative forms of adjudication. More than any other court, the Supreme Court is best understood as a political court.
A concise, lively, and bracing exploration of an issue bedeviling our cultural landscape-plagiarism in literature, academia, music, art, and film-by one of our most influential and controversial legal scholars. Best-selling novelists J. K. Rowling and Dan Brown, popular historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, first novelist Kaavya Viswanathan: all have rightly or wrongly been accused of plagiarism-theft of intellectual property-provoking widespread media punditry. But what exactly is plagiarism? How has the meaning of this notoriously ambiguous term changed over time as a consequence of historical and cultural transformations? Is the practice on the rise, or just more easily detectable by technological advances? How does the current market for expressive goods inform our own understanding of plagiarism? Is there really such a thing as "cryptomnesia," the unconscious, unintentional appropriation of another's work? What are the mysterious motives and curious excuses of plagiarists? What forms of punishment and absolution does this "sin" elicit? What is the good in certain types of plagiarism? Provocative, insightful, and extraordinary for its clarity and forthrightness,The Little Book of Plagiarismis an analytical tour de force in small, the work of "one of the top twenty legal thinkers in America" (Legal Affairs), a distinguished jurist renowned for his adventuresome intellect and daring iconoclasm.
In Reflections on Judging, Richard Posner distills the experience of his thirty-one years as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Surveying how the judiciary has changed since his 1981 appointment, he engages the issues at stake today, suggesting how lawyers should argue cases and judges decide them, how trials can be improved, and, most urgently, how to cope with the dizzying pace of technological advance that makes litigation ever more challenging to judges and lawyers. For Posner, legal formalism presents one of the main obstacles to tackling these problems. Formalist judges--most notably Justice Antonin Scalia--needlessly complicate the legal process by advocating "canons of constructions" (principles for interpreting statutes and the Constitution) that are confusing and self-contradictory. Posner calls instead for a renewed commitment to legal realism, whereby a good judge gathers facts, carefully considers context, and comes to a sensible conclusion that avoids inflicting collateral damage on other areas of the law. This, Posner believes, was the approach of the jurists he most admires and seeks to emulate: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Learned Hand, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly, and it is an approach that can best resolve our twenty-first-century legal disputes.
A commentary on current events and economic issues, gathering the authors' most important and innovative entries.
The deflation of the subprime mortgage bubble in 2006-7 is widely agreed to have been the immediate cause of the collapse of the financial sector in 2008. Consequently, one might think that uncovering the origins of subprime lending would make the root causes of the crisis obvious. That is essentially where public debate about the causes of the crisis began--and ended--in the month following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the 502-point fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in mid-September 2008. However, the subprime housing bubble is just one piece of the puzzle. Asset bubbles inflate and burst frequently, but severe worldwide recessions are rare. What was different this time?In What Caused the Financial Crisis leading economists and scholars delve into the major causes of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression and, together, present a comprehensive picture of the factors that led to it. One essay examines the role of government regulation in expanding home ownership through mortgage subsidies for impoverished borrowers, encouraging the subprime housing bubble. Another explores how banks were able to securitize mortgages by manipulating criteria used for bond ratings. How this led to inaccurate risk assessments that could not be covered by sufficient capital reserves mandated under the Basel accords is made clear in a third essay. Other essays identify monetary policy in the United States and Europe, corporate pay structures, credit-default swaps, banks' leverage, and financial deregulation as possible causes of the crisis.With contributions from Richard A. Posner, Vernon L. Smith, Joseph E. Stiglitz, and John B. Taylor, among others, What Caused the Financial Crisis provides a cogent, comprehensive, and credible explanation of why the crisis happened. It will be an essential resource for scholars and students of finance, economics, history, law, political science, and sociology, as well as others interested in the financial crisis and the nature of modern capitalism and regulation.