Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ars brevis, vita longa

Well, I've had my day of glory - Getting It rose briefly as high as # 622 in the Amazon book ratings (higher than I ever imagined) on the strength of Kashmir Hill's Above the Law review (takeaway phrase: "an 'American Psycho' take on Biglaw") - but is now slowly declining again.

Today was a very long travel day, as I flew round trip between NYC and Toronto to deliver the talk I noted in my previous entry. Hope it went over well; I certainly tried to say a lot in limited time. But better over-ambitious than predictable or boring, I'd like to think.

One thing of value I learned, for the next time I travel to Toronto, concerns the huge advantages of flying via Porter Airlines to the small airport on Toronto Island in the center of town (Billy Bishop Toronto Center Airport). You dash through this tiny airport to a ferry that leaves every 15 minutes and delivers you 5 minutes after that into the heart of town, near the giant needle and all that stuff. Vastly better than dealing with the size and commute from Pearson Airport well out of town.

Main topic for the day, before my pre-dinner talk, was the Canadian tax treatment of stock options (similar in some respects to ours, but complicated by the fact that their corporate rate is much lower than their individual rate, so deferring the inclusion and deduction alike doesn't balance out to equaling the treatment of cash compensation). Speakers on this topic noted the benefit of tax neutrality, but if corporate governance isn't working right (as in the Bebchuk story of options being misused) one needs to consider regulatory responses. Only, once one is considering command & control regulations, if one has just co-written a paper (as I have) on trying to use a Pigouvian tax approach in a new area for it (bank regulation), one is naturally inclined to wonder if that approach has any prospects here. As in the bank subject in the S-S-S- paper, the problem is defining and measuring the harm so you know how to price it. But if you don't know that, it's hard to get the regulatory approach right either (which is not to say one should do nothing if markets are screwing up - just that one will have an ugly problem no matter what).

No comments: