Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Monday, November 18, 2013

Groshoff on Crowdfunding and Virtual Currencies

David Groshoff has posted Kickstarter My Heart: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowdfunding Constraints and Bitcoin Bubbles on SSRN with the following abstract:

This manuscript builds on my existing research program that (a) broadly seeks to analyze laws, regulations, instruments, and policy levers that inhibit a market’s ability to recognize an asset’s intrinsic value, whether in terms of financial, social, or human capital, and (b) explores and advances interdisciplinary corporate governance theories by employing a heterodox economic analytic to derive its proposal to the paradox of an unregulated virtual currency market (Bitcoins) and an overly regulated crowdfunding market (Kickstarter). 

The manuscript functions not only as an homage to Charles MacKay’s legendary 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which described the human, social, and economic psychology of financial bubbles — particularly the Dutch tulip bulb bubble — but also as an offering of problems and proposals that crowdfunded and Kickstarted entrepreneurial businesses, including those funded by Bitcoin currencies, present for a wide swath of societal stakeholders. 

To describe the problem, this manuscript (i) describes behavioral finance, (ii) details the new entrepreneurial business possibilities that virtual currencies and crowdfunded entities can explore, (iii) describes how current rules and regulations represent unnecessary constraints to traditional equity-based funding models and concerning governance models of entrepreneurial enterprises, and (iv) questions why one form of capital deployment (currencies) may provide equity-like returns and unique governance, while the other form of investing (crowdfunding), provides only soft-dollar-like returns and no governance for middle-class investors. 

While both virtual currencies and crowdfunding represent risks, including economic bubble risk, this Article believes that a heterodox economic analysis demonstrates unnecessary constraints on entrepreneurial businesses imposed by extant regulation, regulators, and law and policymakers. To assuage these paradoxic problems for emerging business enterprises, this Article proposes a minarchist heterodox solution of modest statutory language that requires market-based solutions that employ needed risk reduction strategies while redeploying necessary capital to private startup business enterprises. This proposal thus benefits the middle class entrepreneurs, suppliers of capital, and job seekers harmed by the current regulatory regime, while permitting for an expansion of the U.S. and global economies.

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