M & A Law Prof Blog

Editor: Brian JM Quinn
Boston College Law School

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Freakin' Strine

OK, I'll admit it.  I enjoy Chancellor Strine.  He's got some freakin' interesting opinions that he's not freakin' afraid to share with you.  And, whoa, when he freakin' lets his hair down (sorry), watch out.  Evidence?  He gave a freakin' talk to law students at York University recently and shared his views: 

Chancellor Strine is blunt, witty and opinionated. He is by his own admission a left-winger on the U.S. political spectrum. He believes that the financial crisis was the product of too little regulation, that the U.S. tax system goes too easy on speculation, and that independent directors need to "show some spine" and stand up to financial "gimmicks" engineered by aggressive corporate controllers.

Salt those observations with a liberal use of the adjective "freakin'" and you pretty much capture his entire chat. Listening to him is part Harvard lecture and part pregame tailgate party.

The job of the corporate lawyer, he told students, is to help clients follow the better angels of their nature and resist actions that might provide immediate benefits in the short term, but cause greater harm in the long term. ...

"I think there should be a transactional tax that would create some useful friction against speculation," he said. He believes this transactional tax should be imposed internationally, perhaps across the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations, to avoid arbitrage across countries.

He would also adjust the U.S. capital gains tax rate. The U.S. tax system makes a "longterm" rate of 15% available for investors who hold an asset for longer than one year. He suggests five years might make more sense - though he also questioned why capital gains deserve any discounted rate.

"I actually believe there's no reason why, in general, capital gains should be taxed at less than the same rate as sweat."

Strine will be hearing arguments for a preliminary injunction in the In re El Paso case today.  I'm in a rush with respect to classes today, so I may not have time to drop in.  But, don't wait for me. It'll be available on Courtroom View.




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