Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Within weeks of the coronavirus pandemic appearing in the United States, the American economy came to a grinding halt. The unprecedented modern health crisis and the collapsing economy forced Congress to make a critical choice about how to help American families survive financially. Congress had two basic options. It could enact policies that provided direct and meaningful financial support to people, without the necessity of later repayment. Or it could pursue policies that temporarily relieved people from their financial obligations, but required that they eventually pay amounts subject to payment moratoria later.
In passing the CARES Act, Congress primarily chose the second option. This option reflects a belief that offering people credit can bring them meaningful relief because it assumes that people will have the ability to pay back the loan as it becomes due. The assumption that people will be able to repay credit masquerading as “relief” in the wake of the pandemic is a serious error that will have enduring negative consequences.
In short, Congress got the balance between providing true money versus what amount to credit products to Americans fundamentally backwards. But given that, unfortunately, the effects of the pandemic likely will continue for months, if not years, it is not too late for Congress to adopt a family financial well-being approach to relief that provides meaningful, widespread, and expanded direct payments to households in distress.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
If you're looking for some good TV during this pandemic, check out a new mini-documentary by VICE (on Showtime) that aired on Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 8 p.m. eastern time. It addressed African American property loss in a 20-minute segment titled "Losing Ground." Friend of the blog Thomas Mitchell (TAMU) helped the producers develop the segment and was even interviewed! Check it out!
Friday, April 17, 2020
Paul Babie (Adelaide Law) has posted Cryptocurrencies as Property: Ruscoe and Moore v. Cryptopia Limited on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
On 8 April 2020, Gendall J, sitting in the High Court of New Zealand, decided Ruscoe and Moore v Cryptopia Limited (In Liquidation), providing the most recent and authoritative common law statement in the world on whether a cryptocurrency is property. The case provides significant guidance for any jurisdiction, common or civil, faced with determining whether cyrptocurrencies are property. This note outlines the approach taken to ‘the property question’ by Gendall J, in four parts. Part I introduces the property question. Part II provides a brief overview of blockchain and the nature of cryptocurrencies. Part III briefly recounts Gendall J’s reasons for the judgment concluding that cryptocurrencies are property. Part IV offers some brief reflections on the implications of the decision for property and for the relationship of property to contract.
Friday, April 3, 2020
Andreas Rahmatian (Glasgow) recently published a book titled Credit and Creed: A Critical Legal Theory of Money (Rutledge Press), which considers the law of money through a property theory frame. Here's the summary:
Money is a legal institution with principal economic and sociological consequences. Money is a debt, because that is how it is conceptualised and comes into existence: as circulating credit – if viewed from the creditor’s perspective – or, from the debtor’s viewpoint, as debt. This book presents a legal theory of money, based on the concept of dematerialised property. It describes the money creation or money supply process for cash and for bank money, and looks at modern forms of money, such as cryptocurrencies. It also shows why mainstream economics presupposes, but avoids an analysis of, money by effectively eliminating money from the microeconomic market model and declaring it as merely a neutral medium of exchange and unit of account. The book explains that money rather brings about and influences substantially the exchange or transaction it is supposed to facilitate only as a neutral medium. As the most liquid of all assets, money enables financialisation, monetisation and commodification in the economy. The central role of the banks in the money creation process and in the economy, and their strengthened position after the bank rescue measures in the wake of the financial crisis 2008-9 are also discussed.
Providing a rigorous analysis of the most salient legal issues regarding money, this book will appeal to legal theorists, economists and anyone working in commercial or banking law.