The Supreme Court’s recent Dura Pharmaceuticals decision requires a plaintiff to show a market decline (ex post losses), as opposed to price inflation at the time of purchase (ex ante losses), in order to maintain an action for securities fraud. Since fraud is actionable only where a market decline attributable to the fraud occurs under the ex post loss rule, firms that can bundle together disclosures or business projects are under-deterred by the antifraud regime: the success of one project may compensate for the failure of another, the firm can time the release of good and bad news to mask fraud’s effect on price, and “other factors” that would have caused a loss of investment value even without the fraud can disallow a claim for damages. Strategically, firms may bundle to minimize exposure to liability. On the other hand, firms that value transparency may wish to unbundle. In this sense, the credibility of disclosure under an ex post loss rule depends on the extent to which firms can and do unbundle, whereas an ex ante regime is theoretically perfect in any case. This analysis also reveals two additional problems with an ex post rule: market tests for ex post damages awards (a chief purported benefit) are generally not available for bundled firms, and awarding ex post damages may over-punish small frauds but reward big ones.
Corporation and Enterprise Law | Law and Economics | Securities Law
Date of this Version
James C. Spindler, "Why Shareholders Want Their CEOs to Lie More after Dura Pharmaceuticals" (July 2006). University of Southern California Law and Economics Working Paper Series. Working Paper 59.