Stephen Park


Puerto Rico’s Debt Dilemma and Pathways Toward Sovereign Solvency

American Business Law Journal, Vol. 54, No. 1, 2017

Stephen Park

Puerto Rico, as a quasi-sovereign U.S. territory, is confronting a debt crisis of unparalleled legal complexity. This article analyzes the collective action problems in sovereign debt finance in the context of Puerto Rico’s quasi-sovereign debt dilemma. We examine how sovereign debtors engage with their private creditors in the absence of a formal bankruptcy regime and show how various legal incentives, imperatives, and constraints shape the degree and form of creditor engagement. Drawing on this conceptual framework, this article analyzes the role of these factors in the market-based debt restructuring by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and hypothesizes how these factors may influence the statutory restructuring process underway under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). Despite the idiosyncratic aspects of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, the potential pathways for debtor-creditor cooperation in Puerto Rico provide valuable insights on the various ways that law influences debtor-creditor cooperation in sovereign debt finance beyond the enforcement of state-based public regulation and contract-based private legal commitments. Full article.


Turning Corporate Compliance into Competitive Advantage

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law, Vol. 19, No.2 (2017)

Robert Bird, Stephen Park

Compliance is a core concern for corporate governance. Firms devote tremendous amounts of money, personnel, and attention to ensure compliance with regulatory mandates — and yet compliance failures proliferate. This is because the current static and binary view of compliance hinders both efficient compliance by firms and effective regulation by government. Understanding the reality that compliance is both dynamic and driven by efficiency empowers firms to evolve past mere conformance and into wealth maximizing innovation. This Article develops an efficient investment-risk (EIR) model of compliance that captures the tradeoffs between cost and risk, parses the oft-commingled concepts of technical efficiency and allocative efficiency, and enables firms to obtain a competitive advantage through compliance. We also turn our attention to regulators, and highlight how the EIR model can enhance regulatory design, foster regulator-firm cooperation, and advance the mutual goals of business and society. Full article.


Special Economic Zones and the Perpetual Pluralism of Global Trade and Labor Migration

Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 47, No.4 (2016)

Stephen Park

When we think about the legal drivers of globalization, why does the free movement of people lag so far behind the free movement of goods and services? While agreements to lower barriers to cross-border trade are enforced by global legal rules and institutions, national governments indisputably control and limit cross-border labor migration. However, the relationship between trade and labor migration in international law is anything but clear-cut and simple. Rather, as this Article shows, it is ad hoc, decentralized, and pluralistic. This Article focuses on the use of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as an illuminating example. SEZs enable countries to selectively open borders to higher-skilled foreign workers while maximizing economic returns and minimizing socio-political costs. While advantageous to individual countries, this Article argues that the pluralistic status quo hinders comprehensive initiatives to harmonize the liberalization of trade and labor and promote freedom of movement in international labor markets. Full article.

Towards Sovereign Equity

Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2016)

Stephen Park, Tim R. Samples

Sovereigns are unique market participants in the global financial system, and sovereign debt markets largely operate in a legal and regulatory void. This Article adds an important and timely perspective by examining the concept of equity in sovereign debt finance. Governments, unlike corporations, rely almost exclusively on debt to externally finance their investments and operations. GDP-linked securities, which provide interest payments indexed to the sovereign issuer’s rate of growth, are sovereign debt instruments with certain equity-like characteristics. This Article considers whether innovation towards sovereign equity can help mitigate problems associated with sovereign debt crises. To address this question, we analyze the use of GDP-linked securities in recent sovereign debt restructurings by Argentina, Greece, and Ukraine. Drawing on this analysis, we explore more broadly the legal implications of sovereign equity, and conclude that these applications offer opportunities to help manage sovereign finance in the absence of readily enforceable international financial regulation. Full article.


An Efficient Investment-Risk Model of Compliance

The CLS Blue Sky Blog– Corporate compliance — the internal processes that firms use to ensure that their employees do not violate applicable laws and regulations — has become big business. Regulation of business continues to grow, punctuated by landmark laws that have re-shaped the financial services (the Dodd-Frank Act) and health care (the Affordable Care Act) industries in the United States. Further, federal regulators have…


PROMESA and Puerto Rico’s Pathways to Solvency

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation – Facing a self-declared “death spiral” of public debt, the Governor of Puerto Rico announced a debt moratorium earlier this year, halting payments to bondholders. A series of missed payments followed, including a landmark default on constitutionally guaranteed bonds in July. At the same time, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA or “promise” in Spanish), which combines a debt restructuring system with federal controls over the island’s finances. But enacting PROMESA is only a first step. Coordination and engagement with creditors is the next step—and an even more complicated one—in Puerto Rico’s long journey towards solvency and fiscal stability.


Business Law Professors Honored for Research

Two UConn business law professors received prestigious research awards over the summer.

Professors Stephen Park and Robert Bird received the Hoeber Memorial Award for Excellence in Research for their article, “The Domains of Corporate Counsel in an Era of Compliance.” The Hoeber award, given in memory of prominent business law professor Ralph C. Hoeber, is awarded by the editors of the American Business Law Journal to recognize excellent research. Continue Reading


Shaping an Emerging Global Agenda

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Professor Park, Colleagues Awarded UConn Academic-Plan Grant to Help Further the Study, Practice of Human Rights in Business

Business law professor Stephen Park and UConn colleagues have been awarded a $265,000 research grant under UConn’s Academic Plan to investigate ways to protect and promote human rights in the business world.Continue Reading


Tradeoffs, Conflicts, Opportunities

Auret Van Heerden, former president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. (Vivek Soundararajan/University of Birmingham)
Auret Van Heerden, former president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. (Vivek Soundararajan/University of Birmingham)

Business Law Conference Draws International Experts, Sparks New Ideas

Experts in business law, management and a range of social science disciplines attended a two-day conference at UConn titled, “Public Regulation and Private Governance: Competitors or Collaborators?”

Conference participants, from North America and Europe, presented 14 papers that tackled the complex topic of how public regulations and private governance can complement each other.

The keynote dinner featured Continue Reading