Category Archives: Travel

The Moral Limits Of Free Markets In Boulder Monday, I’ll be at CU Boulder’s Center For Western Civilization, Thought, & Policy, along with Jason Brennan (Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics & Public Policy, Georgetown University) and Margaret Jane Radin (Michigan Law, Toronto Law) to discuss and debate the moral limits of free markets.

The event is free and open to the public, and I’ve copied the event information below. Although I’ll be back after the event with updates on the substance, I expect that Jason will take the position, consistent with his book, Markets Without Limits, that “if you may do it for free, you may do it for money.” I imagine that Peggy, consistent with her book, Contested Commodities, will argue that there should be some limits on markets, when necessary to protect nonmarket ideals important to personhood.

I plan to leave the normative debate to those two and take a more descriptive approach: regardless of whether or not market transactions actually degrade relationships and values, most people continue to believe that they do, at least in certain contexts. As a result, market advocates need to account for, and even accommodate, those concerns if the market is to exist at all.

As I explain in a piece I just posted to SSRN:

Students of markets from all disciplines are increasingly turning their attention to the cultural and psychological factors that affect market structure. In traditionally taboo markets, of which reproduction surely is one, those factors include cultural understandings of the moral limits of markets and our collective level of comfort with fully commodifying and subjecting traditionally sacred items and activities to the marketplace.

While it is easy to dismiss these cultural understandings as romantic, silly, or delusional, this severely underestimates their importance, not just to society, but to the market itself. By reframing traditionally unacceptable behavior as a more palatable and familiar transaction, society is able to accept a market that is otherwise socially problematic or even repulsive. Market architects ignore these cultural understandings–and, in particular, societal conceptions of the ethical limits of markets–at their peril. In a world unwilling to embrace the sale of female reproductive capacity for merely a price, the “priceless gift” of egg donation allows a market to flourish that otherwise might stagnate under the weight of social disapproval.


The Moral Limits of Free Markets (4/4/16)

The “Western Civ Dialogue” series presents:

The Moral Limits of Free Markets

Monday, April 4, 2016

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

British and Irish Studies Room

Norlin Library – 5th Floor

University of Colorado Boulder

Free and open to the public.

If you may do it for free, may you do it for cash? For instance, may you buy and sell votes? How about buying and selling kidneys? Or buying and selling children? What should be off-limits to the market economy? Or do genuinely free markets permit everything? Scholars representing a wide range of views discuss the issues.


Jason Brennan, Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics & Public Policy, Georgetown University

Margaret Jane Radin, Professor of Law, Emerita, University of Michigan Law School & Distinguished Research Scholar, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Kimberly Krawiec, Professor of Law, Duke University Law School


Sponsored by the:

Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy (CWCTP)


Co-sponsored by the:

Center for Values and Social Policy

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The State And The Market

IMG_0493 IMG_0902I spent yesterday at a really fun roundtable on the State and the Market at Bar Ilan University. The roundtable, organized by Tsilly Dagan and me (well, really just Tsilly, who did all the work) featured several paper panels and discussion on issues that will interest Lounge readers interested in Taboo Trades. Yuval Feldman presented an interesting paper (as always) about an MTurk study of subtle conflicts of interest – when “good people do bad things,” and Hila Shamir presented some early-stage research on how the state can support women in the workplace, in particular, working mothers.

I’m, of course, partial to my own panel, which featured Benny Shmueli’s paper on the alienability of the get (the Jewish divorce bill) and Ram Rivlin’s analysis of why we perceive certain transactions as taboo when the trading is among strangers, yet accept similar intra-familial transfers as uncontroversial. I discussed commodification in the oocyte market – specifically, two cases of first impression in the United States (one an antitrust suit against the American Society For Reproductive Medicine and the other a tax case regarding the proper treatment of income earned from egg “donation.”)

But the stars of the show were undoubtedly Tsilly Dagan and Talia Fisher, whose paper on the fragmentation and tradability of sovereignty makes even the proposal by my colleagues Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati (on the same panel) to marketize sovereign control look tame in comparison.

It was also nice to see other Bar Ilan faculty in attendance, many of whom I met when I visited a few years ago, such as Shahar Lifshitz, Adi Ayal, and Jacob Nussim and, of course, to meet the new faculty who have been hired since I was there last.


We are happy to invite you for a roundtable on “The State and the Market” to be held December 30th 2014 at Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law (room # 300 @ the Banin building).

Please find below a short description of the focus of our discussions as well as our schedule

Tsilly Dagan & Kimberly D. Krawiec

The State and The Market

The intersection of the state and the market is the center of attention of many theoretical perspectives and disciplines. The ways in which states design their markets and set their borders has a major effect on the nature of society, and the identities of individuals within it. At the same time markets (in goods, in services, investments as well as the market-like competition between states under globalization) alter states’ policies and capabilities and curtail their sovereign powers.

In this workshop, we wish to encourage participants to present their work in progress focusing on the description, explanation, and the normative evaluation of the mutual effects of states and markets: the cases where the two institutions limit one another and the cases where they facilitate each other’s prosperity.

16:30- 17:30 When State and Market Interact

Yuval Feldman & Eliran Haleli , “Exploring the Potential Role of Law in Enhancing Neutrality in Subtle Conflicts of Interest Situations‫.”

Hila Shamir, “Designing Legal Mechanisms for the Promotion of Women: the Market, The State, The Family and the Public Good”

17:45-19:15 Taboo Trades

Kimberly D. Krawiec, “Commodification (Or Not) In The Oocyte Market”

Benny Shmueli, “Trading the Right to Divorce: On Inalienability, Commodification, and Using Liability Rules in Cases of Refusal to Divorce”

Ram Rivlin, “The Puzzle of Intra-Familial Commodification”

19:30-20:30 Marketizing the State 

Mitu Gulati, “A Market For Sovereign Control?” (With Joseph Blocher)

Talia Fisher & Tsilly Dagan, “The Market and the State”

*Please RSVP to Tsilly Dagan ( or Kim Krawiec ( if you plan to attend.

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Meet Me In Paris!

Dear colleagues,

We invite you to attend the conference on “Improving Risk Regulation:  From Crisis Response to Learning and Innovation,” to be held in Paris on 13-14 October.

The latest conference agenda summary (version of 9 September) is accessible through the link at the bottom of this post.

The agenda, further details, and links to register are at: .

This conference is co-hosted by the IRGC ( ), the OECD Regulatory Policy Division ( ), and the Duke University “Rethinking Regulation” program (  ).

  • The first day addresses how crisis events shape regulatory change and how regulatory institutions can learn from crises.  This is the theme of a research project we are leading at Duke University on “Recalibrating Risk: Crises, Perceptions and Regulatory Change” (book forthcoming in 2015).
  • The second day addresses how regulatory systems can be designed to learn and improve over time, both exhibiting adaptive policy innovation and stimulating technological innovation.
  • Case studies to be highlighted during the conference include the regulation of oil spills, nuclear accidents, financial crashes, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals; the use of behavioral insights and non-government networks in regulation; and more.
  • Speakers will come from numerous countries, disciplines, and organizations.


We hope to see you there!


Best regards,

Ed Balleisen

Lori Bennear

Kim Krawiec

Jonathan Wiener


Duke University – “Rethinking Regulation” program

in collaboration with


OECD Regulatory Policy Division,


Improving Risk Regulation – Summary Agenda v09Sept2014

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Another HKU Summer, and Students As Colleagues

IMG_0716 IMG_0717 IMG_0679 IMG_0684 IMG_1800 IMG_1797As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was in China this summer on a variety of work-related activities, including attending a conference in Shanghai, visiting alumni in China and Taiwan, and teaching at the Duke-HKU Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law in Hong Kong. This was my second summer at the Institute, and I always have a great time there.

Hong Kong is such a wonderful city and HKU is, to my mind, a gorgeous urban campus, with harbor and peak views, koi ponds and other cool landscaping, easy access to the peak, and a fabulous new building with the latest classroom technology. This year, though, was especially fun because I was able to co-teach a mini-course on financial derivatives with one of my former financial derivatives students, Shinichi Yoshiya, now at Davis Polk’s Tokyo office. Shin was already an experienced lawyer, and particularly experienced with derivatives regulation, when he was a student at Duke, having worked at both Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Securities before coming to Duke for his LL.M. I did a post about a paper he did on central clearing when he was a student, here.

It was great to be back in one of my favorite cities and even better to be there teaching with one of my favorite (former) students!

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Shanghai: Work, Food, and More



I was in Shanghai last week for the first time, attending a conference and an alumni dinner. The conference – The 2014 International Forum on Financial Law — was at KoGuan Law School at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and was a lot of fun. The conference format was a new one for me and I thought worked very well, especially for an international audience.

Image - Version 2The morning consisted of public lectures by party officials, regulators, practitioners, and academics with simultaneous translation. One or two of the Chinese academics were fairly critical of various aspects of the Chinese legal system, and watching the responses from fellow presenters and audience members was especially interesting, though I’m sure that I missed many of the subtleties of these exchanges.

IMG_0539The afternoon was divided into parallel sessions, one in Chinese and one in English, with paper presentations by invited guests. My presentation was in the English session, of course, so I can only speak to the specifics of that one, but I was very pleased with the quality of the presentations and discussion. I learned some new things about emerging corporate law and financial regulation issues in China, Singapore, and Japan, and was struck by both the similarities and the differences of the concerns: for example, several of the papers were on shadow banking in China, which is clearly a concern (as it is in the U.S.), but the character of shadow banking appears quite different in China, making the US experience only partially comparable.

IMG_0544My panel line-up was scheduled as follows, though for scheduling reasons there was a last minute switch of Shen Wei’s presentation on Chinese local government debt and shadow banking (which was excellent) instead of Cheng-Yun Tsang (who did a fine job on the next panel):

Host: Shen Wei, Professor of KoGuan Law School, SJTU

Discussant: Douglas Arner, Professor of The University of Hong Kong


Kim Krawiec, Professor of School of Law, Duke University

Wang Jiangyu, Associate Professor of Law School, National

University of Singapore

Manabu Matsunaka, Professor of Nagoya University

Tang Yingmao, Associate Professor of Law School, Peking University

Cheng-Yun Tsang, Doctoral Student of School of Law, Duke University

Naturally, I made time for some food tourism as well (courtesy of UnTour, which I highly recommend). Included are photos of my street food breakfast in Shanghai on the day of departure, which was delicious, and can be roughly divided into three categories: noodles, dim sum, and deep fried dough (yum, yum!)

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