Friday, December 6, 2013
The sriracha hot sauce made by Huy Fong Foods is an incredible small business success story. Started by Vietnamese immigrant, David Tran, Huy Fong's Foods sold 20 million bottles of sauce last year to the tune of $60 million. Percentage sales growth is in the double digits each year. And the company has managed all this without any advertising budget.
But maybe the suace has gotten too spicey. Recently, the city of Irwindale, California brought a public nuisnace case against the company's plant:
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered a Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale, Ca. be partially shut down in response to odor complaints from nearby residents.
Judge Robert H. O'Brien ruled in favor of the city and ordered sauce maker Huy Fong Foods to cease any kind of operations that could be causing the odors and make immediate changes that would help mitigate them.
The injunction does not stop the company operating or using the property entirely, or specify the types of actions that are required.
Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods on Oct. 21 after nearby residents complained of heartburn, inflamed asthma and even nosebleeds that they said were caused by the spicy odor coming from the hot sauce plant.
O'Brien acknowledged in his ruling that there was a "lack of credible evidence" linking the stated health problems to the odor, but said that the odor appears to be "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance."
He also wrote that the odor could be "reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility," and determined that the city is "likely to prevail" in declaring the odor a public nuisance, according to the ruling.
Steven Eagle (George Mason) has posted The Four-Factor Penn Central Regulatory Takings Test (Penn State Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
The Article examines the ad hoc, multifactor, regulatory takings doctrine derived from Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York. It analyzes the conventional three-factor characterization of the Penn Central tests, and concludes that a four-factor approach better captures the dynamics of Penn Central analysis. “Parcel as a whole,” conceptually regarded as delimiting the relevant parcel for the Penn Central inquiry, in fact interacts with the “economic impact,” “investment-backed expectations,” and “character of the regulation” tests.
While the four-factor analysis advocated here is conceptually better and enhances understanding of how Penn Central operates, the doctrine remains under-theorized, subjective, with its factors mutually referential, and unable to provide a reliable guide to courts or litigants.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
None. Zero. Nada.
That’s how many four-letter dot-com domain names are left unregistered on the Internet, according to new research by WhoAPI.com, a Croatian startup that analyzes domain data.
We’re not just talking about four-letter names that spell actual words, like cars.com or pets.com (R.I.P). We’re not even just talking about pronounceable four-letter combinations, like eBay, Yelp, Etsy, and Hulu. We’re talking every possible four-letter combination, from aaaa.com to zzzz.com. That’s a total of 456,976 combinations. WhoAPI checked all 456,976 of them, and confirmed that not one remains unregistered.
1. [597 downloads] The Paper Chase: Securitization, Foreclosure, and the Uncertainty of Mortgage Title
Adam J. Levitin (Georgetown)
2. [346 downloads] Trying Times: Important Lessons to Be Learned from Recent Federal Tax Cases
Nancy A. McLaughlin (Utah) & Stephen J. Small (Independent)
3. [280 downloads] Basic Gift and Estate Tax Treatment of Joint Tenancies
Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Michael Epstein (Independent)
4. [96 downloads] Ownership and Obligations: The Human Flourishing Theory of Property
Gregory S. Alexander (Cornell)
5. [95 downloads] Contract and Property Law: Distinct, but not Separate
Sjef van Erp (Maastricht)
7. [64 downloads] REMIC Tax Enforcement as Financial-Market Regulator
Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) & David J. Reiss (Brooklyn)
9. [59 downloads] The Phantom of the Foreclosure Crisis: Cancellation of Indebtedness Taxation
Dustin A. Zacks (Independent)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Maureen Brady (Yale Ph.D. student) has posted Community Knowledge and Its Collapse: History of an Early American Property Regime on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, American colonists often planned new towns and cities without the use of formal institutions or comprehensive plans. The plans produced by these methods sprouted up in town after town: oddly-shaped farm lots and irregular street grids dominated the landscapes of early cities like Boston, New York, and Hartford. Although scholars and theorists have roundly criticized the informality of these early property systems, no one has explored their inner workings – or when and how these regimes changed to resemble the formal and comprehensive property systems we use today. This paper tells the story of the property regime of one early American city – New Haven, Connecticut – that was built without the benefit of formal legal institutions. It examines the critical role of the close-knit community in land distribution, street planning, land transactions, and property litigation in early New England, and it explores how New Haven moved toward a more formal regime as its increasing population put significant strain on the old ways. Though informal property regimes may not be normatively desirable in the long term, original research in this study suggests that these systems undeniably worked for the small colonial populations they served and that they were able to adapt under the pressure of a growing populace.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
According to data recently released by the Census Bureau, the mobility rate in America is at an all-time low. On explanation for this is the recent recession; unable to find work many millennials remain trapped in their parents' basements. But the recession narrative ignores that mobility has been on the decline for 60 years. What gives? Emily Badger is on the case:
So what's been going on here? And should we (if not the U-Haul industry) be concerned? Physical mobility, after all, can cut both ways: For some populations, high mobility reflects choice, for others instability. Low mobility, likewise, may mean that people are content with where they are, or, conversely, that they're stuck in homes they can't unload.
For one thing, that decades-long decline reflects the long-term rise of homeownership in America. Homeowners move less often than renters. And considerably more of us are homeowners now than in 1948 (although that trend has begun to turn since the housing bust). In 1940, the U.S. homeownership rate was 44 percent. Today, it's 65 percent.
But a greater trend is at work too: the U.S. population is now rapidly aging, and an aging population moves left often, too (both by choice and necessity). That means that even as homeownership starts to tick down, and as Millennials start to find jobs and homes of their own, this decline will likely continue.
David Ellerman (UC Riverside - Philosophy) has posted On Property Theory on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
A theory of property needs to give an account of the whole life-cycle of a property right: how it is initiated, transferred, and terminated. Economics has focused on the transfers in the market and has almost completely neglected the question of the initiation and termination of property in normal production and consumption (not in some original state or in the transition from common to private property). The institutional mechanism for the normal initiation and termination of property is an invisible-hand function of the market, the market mechanism of appropriation. Does this mechanism satisfy an appropriate normative principle? The standard normative juridical principle is to assign or impute legal responsibility according to de facto responsibility. It is given a historical tag of being "Lockean" but the basis is contemporary jurisprudence, not historical exegesis. Then the fundamental theorem of the property mechanism is proven which shows that if "Hume's conditions" (no transfers without consent and all contracts fulfilled) are satisfied, then the market automatically satisfies the Lockean responsibility principle, i.e., "Hume implies Locke." As a major application, the results in their contrapositive form, "Not Locke implies Not Hume," are applied to a market economy based on the employment contract. It is shown the production based on the employment contract violates the Lockean principle (all who work in an employment enterprise are de facto responsible for the positive and negative results) and thus Hume's conditions must also be violated in the marketplace (de facto responsible human action cannot be transferred from one person to another — as is readily recognized when and employer and employee together commit a crime).
Monday, December 2, 2013
Martha Fuqua claims that in late 2009 she purchased a tiny Renoir painting at a garage sale for seven dollars. This stroke of good luck has been followed by four years of misery. First, Martha attempted to sell the Renoir through a D.C. auction house, which estimated that the painting would bring in around $100,000. Things quickly went south:
But days before the bidding began, the Baltimore Museum of Art found internal records showing that the impressionist landscape, painted on a 51 / 2-by-9-inch napkin, had been stolen while on exhibit in 1951. The revelation prompted the FBI to seize the piece and set the stage for a federal judge to determine who gets to keep it: [Martha] or the BMA.
Earlier this year, Martha unmasked herself in her effort to get the painting back. She pleaded in court papers that she deserves the painting because she is an “innocent owner,” as defined by federal law. She had no clue when she bought the Renoir in a box of junk, she said, that it might have been stolen and subject to seizure.
Now her sibling has turned on her. Martha's brother, Matt, has "ccontradicted his sister’s timeline that she had bought the Renoir in late 2009 and stored it at her Loudoun home until mid-2012. Matt said he testified that the Renoir couldn’t have been only at his sister’s Loudoun home during those 21 / 2 years. His girlfriend Jamie Lynne Romantic, a Northern Virginia real estate agent, discovered the Renoir while cleaning out his mother’s Fairfax studio in late 2011, he said."
Recently, the sibling warfare has spiraled:
Martha was charged by Fairfax police last month with breaking into the apartment of her brother’s girlfriend. And Matt became the target of a lawsuit filed by his sister this month in Fairfax County court in an effort to evict him and his girlfriend from their mother’s property.
As with the famous Barry Bond's baseball, sometimes it's finders weepers.
Judith Fox (Notre Dame) has published Foreclosure Echo: How Abandoned Foreclosures are Re-Entering the Market Through Debt Buyers on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
It is common knowledge that mortgage defaults increased steadily from 2006 through 2011. In some situations, lenders moved swiftly after default to foreclose the property; but for other homeowners the foreclosure process began and then stalled or was completely abandoned by the lender. The result of these abandoned foreclosures has been devastating to cities and consumers throughout the country. This article explores what is happening to homeowners caught up in the strange world of bank walkaways as the economy is beginning to improve. This second wave of collection activity, an echo of the original foreclosure crisis, could easily throw thousands of consumers back into financial hardship just as the economic recovery begins.
Part I of this article explores the evidence of foreclosures started and then stalled or abandoned and their impact on consumers and communities. In Part II "the real zombie title" is introduced through evidence gathered in foreclosures in Indiana. This new form of "zombie loan" is a mortgage loan that has been foreclosed, but is suddenly and inexplicably "un-foreclosed." The effect of zombie loans on homeowner, judicial system and communities is also explored. Finally, Part III discusses the increased presence of debt buyers in both the buying of loans and the collection of deficiency judgment in relation to the overall concern currently being voiced regarding the debt buying industry. The clever ways banks are managing their foreclosure inventory make clear that the effects of zombie loans must be mitigated in order to avoid a second economic downturn, the "foreclosure echo."
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Well, probably Minnesota, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Missouri, or Virginia. Here's a map of the counties that produce the most turkeys:
There is also a large and vibrant industry of small scale production, as the smattering of dots on the map indicate. In fact, it’s not unusual to have turkey farms with a relatively small number of hogs and small-scale beef production too. - See more at: http://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2012/thanksgiving/#sthash.rS6mhd6T.dpuf
Turkey farmers want to be where the corn and soybeans are. Geographically, then, big turkey producers are located near to processing plants and the cheap foods that will feed their livestock (Which explains the dots few and far between in regions like Utah and Texas). There is also a large and vibrant industry of small scale production, as the smattering of dots on the map indicate. In fact, it’s not unusual to have turkey farms with a relatively small number of hogs and small-scale beef production too.
In honor of the holiday, it's time to dust off the argument that private property saved the pilgrims. Benjamin Powell, an economist at Suffolk, tells the story here:
Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.
In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. . . . Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.
Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. This change, [the Pilgrims recorded], had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years.
Of course, non of this explains how the Indians managed to survive here for thousands and thousands of years.
Again, happy turkey day.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Paul Babie (Adelaide) has posted The Spatial: A Forgotten Dimension of Property (San Diego Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This article employs urban sociologist and planning theorist Edward W Soja’s spatial scaffolding found in the ontological "trialectic" to look at property anew, with its obvious, but oft-forgotten spatial dimension brought to the foreground. The article uses Soja’s ontological trialectic to reassemble what we already know about property, demonstrating that theorizing about property implicitly recognizes the importance of spatiality. Recognizing the interwoven complexity to and inseparability and interdependence of historicality, sociality and spatiality — Soja’s three ontological elements — of property allows space an explicit role in defining what property is, when it exists, and how it is central to and affected by human life. But more importantly, it reveals how property is the cause of spatial injustice, which opens the possibility of using property as a vehicle both to seek and to achieve spatial justice. The article concludes by reflecting upon the emerging definition of spatial injustice, how property is one source of such injustice, and how recognizing the spatial dimension may allow us to see and to remedy instances of it.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Many WalMart locations around the country allow motorhome campers to park overnight in their parking lots for free (Of course there's a map of the 3557 Walmart locations that allow overnight vistis). Brooklyn-based photographer Nolan Conway hung out with some of the folks that make WalMart their home during a 3 week photography tour of WalMart parking lots in Arizona.
He was not impressed: "Within a week of being surrounded by these people I became lonely and unhappy. It’s one thing to stay in the Walmart parking lot, but it’s an entirely different experience living there. You can also feel quite vulnerable sleeping in your vehicle."
See Conway's photos here.
Christopher Serkin (Vanderbilt) and Leslie Wellington (Brooklyn) have posted Putting Exclusionary Zoning in its Place: Affordable Housing and Geographical Scale (Fordham Urban Law Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
The term “exclusionary zoning” typically describes a particular phenomenon: suburban large-lot zoning that reduces the supply of developable land and drives up housing prices. But exclusionary zoning in its modern form also occurs both within the urban core and region-wide. Exclusionary zoning at the sub-local and regional scales results in property values that fully capitalize the benefits of living in higher-wage regions, and the value of local public goods (like high-quality schools). Lower-income households then cannot meaningfully access those advantages, even if every municipality accommodates its fair share of regional need. The long-standing focus of exclusionary zoning on the content of local ordinances, instead of on these broader exclusionary dynamics, has defined the problem of exclusionary zoning too narrowly. We remedy that deficiency in our contribution to the Fordham Urban Law Journal’s Fortieth Anniversary issue.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Matt Yglesias thinks so:
Consider luxury cars. Nobody in Germany thinks it’s bad that rich people like to buy fancy cars from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. On the contrary, the popularity of those luxury brands is one of the pillars of the German export economy. And if really rich people swoop in and start demanding more and more of the highest-end models, then so much the better. Those M’s, AMG’s, and S’s just create even more value for the car companies, their workers, and their suppliers. Nobody worries that ordinary Germans are going to be stuck taking the bus because all the nicest cars are being exported to Russia. If demand rises, you build more factories. And some factories can make Porsches for fancy people while others make Volkswagens for regular folks. The problem only arises if for some reason you can’t build more cars.
America’s greatest export product is America itself. Whether it’s apartments in Manhattan or beachfront condos in Miami and San Diego, the rich people of the world want to buy dwellings on our shores. If we allow for more building permits and denser construction, there’ll be a jobs boom exporting those homes just as Switzerland exports fancy watches or Gulfstream exports private jets. The houses will have to be filled with furniture and appliances and other manufactured goods, and when their owners come to visit, they’ll also visit our stores and restaurants. And, yes, as Bloomberg said, they’ll pay property taxes.
Slate explains how to humiliate your children in any Waldo-finding competition:
Handford generally shies away from putting Waldo near the bottom or top of a page, which leads me to theorize that Waldo placement is largely a function of two factors: aversion from extremes and aversion from the middle. While we would expect Waldo to be hidden within an inch-and-a-half of the spread’s top or bottom borders almost 25 percent of the time if Handford were placing him randomly, in practice he is there only in 12 percent of all pages. More surprising is the fact that Waldo is also unlikely to be in the middle of the page, as you can see from the map above. It’s possible that Handford avoided the edges and centers of the pages out of concern that they may not print clearly. However, Waldo is placed in these locations occasionally, which weakens this hypothesis. I think it’s more likely that Handford was trying to avoid locations that might be construed as too obvious—i.e. the centers or the corners, where children and adults alike might begin their search. But while this might make Waldo harder to find for the reader whose eyes immediately dart to the center or edge of the page, once you know your quarry is unlikely to be in those places, it actually makes him much easier to find.
Pablo Kurlat and Johannes Stroebel have posted Testing for Information Asymmetries in Real Estate Markets on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
We study equilibrium outcomes in markets with asymmetric information about asset values among both buyers and sellers. In residential real estate markets hard-to-observe neighborhood characteristics are a key source of information heterogeneity: sellers are usually better informed about neighborhood values than buyers, but there are some sellers and some buyers that are better informed than their peers. We propose a new theoretical framework for analyzing such markets with many heterogeneous assets and differentially informed agents. Consistent with the predictions from this framework, we find that changes in the seller composition towards (i) more informed sellers and (ii) sellers with a larger supply elasticity predict subsequent house-price declines and demographic changes in that neighborhood. This effect is larger for houses whose value depends more on neighborhood characteristics, and smaller for houses bought by more informed buyers. Our findings suggest that home owners have superior information about important neighborhood characteristics, and exploit this information to time local market movements.
Friday, November 22, 2013
In both Portland, Maine and San Francisco, Google has constructed a series of large structures on off-shore barges. A Google spokesman, says "Although it's still early days and things may change, we're exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology." Others believe that the barges will move to large coastal cities, where wealthy customers will have the opportunity to check out Google Glass, the Internet giant’s forthcoming computerized eyewear. One interesting twist is that Google's off-shore construction has helped it avoid both public scrutiny and local zoning rules. Is this the future for our over-zoned cities?:
Google has been building a four-story structure in the heart of the San Francisco Bay for several weeks, but managed to conceal its purpose by constructing it on docked barges instead of on land, where city building permits and public plans are mandatory.
Until now, San Francisco city officials responsible for land use and state officials responsible for the bay have said they didn't know what was being built there. Coast Guard inspectors who visited the construction sites could not discuss what they saw. Lt. Anna Dixon said non-disclosure agreements were signed, but that those were not necessary, and that the Coast Guard, as a practice, doesn't share proprietary information it sees during inspections.
(HT: Sarah Schindler)
Jim Simth (Georgia) has edited a new book, Property and Sovereignty: Legal and Cultural Perspectives. The book features chapters from Al Brophy, Larissa Katz, and Daniel Fitzpatrick, among others. Here's the publisher's blurb:
This book explores the relationships between property and the concept of sovereignty from a number of different perspectives. It distinguishes between the dual meaning of 'sovereignty' in property discourse - political sovereignty and owner sovereignty. The contributors discuss the nature of sovereignty in both senses, applying it to a wide range of topics such as the evolution of property rights in fragile and conflict-affected nation states, and notions of sovereign property in new worlds. A section on the Arts illuminates the relationships between property, sovereignty, and culture, and a further section investigates regulatory property and governmental control over resources. The book concludes with an exploration of sovereign shaping of private property entitlements to achieve instrumental ends.
This interesting collection will be valuable to those in the fields of legal philosophy, property theory, international and comparative law, and political sociology. This book explores the relationships between property and the concept of sovereignty from a number of different perspectives. It distinguishes between the dual meaning of ‘sovereignty’ in property discourse - political sovereignty and owner sovereignty. The contributors discuss the nature of sovereignty in both senses, applying it to a wide range of topics such as the evolution of property rights in fragile and conflict-affected nation states and notions of sovereign property in new worlds. A section on The Arts illuminates the relationships between property, sovereignty and culture and a further section investigates regulatory property and governmental control over resources. The book concludes with an exploration of sovereign shaping of private property entitlements to achieve instrumental ends.