College Columns December 2018 - Page 14

Book Review

continued from page 13

So, these days, we have a new menu of assets to manage, which necessarily means a new sets of analytical challenges, which in turn implies the need for a new set of tools. I won’t try to canvass everything here (hey, go read the book) and I’ll spare you the MBA jargon. But here is a hint at what the authors have in mind:

Sunk costs. You set out to build a new factory, the deal goes sour, you can probably get something out of the unfinished building at salvage. You spend a ton on R&D, you conclude you have a bad idea, you’ve got nothing but—well, experience. Corollary, situation specific. The forklift truck really doesn’t care who owns it. But for so many intangibles, unless they are of use to the current owner, the chances are they cannot be transferred profitably to anybody else.

Protectibility. Much easier to steal an idea than a forklift truck. Even with all the powers the sovereign can deploy in your aid, you can be pretty sure of that.

And so forth. There is much more. Some of it is first-class: an excellent summary of the issues over intangibles under accounting rules. Some promising, if perhaps incomplete: an attempt to understand the place of intangibles in financial markets. Some veer suspiciously close to MBA bafflegab, such as the discussion of the responsibilities of management in an intangible world (but they do show a gratifying contempt for the human relations department).

And about bankruptcy, well strictly speaking, as I say, absolutely nothing. I’m sure somebody with more grit or focus or chops than your reviewer could flesh out the bankruptcy stuff to good purpose. No matter. I think I understand the world better for having read the book, and were I still in the game (I’m not) I’m sure I would profit from it.

Jack Ayer (ACB Class 2) taught bankruptcy law at half a dozen universities, mostly UC Davis. He also practiced for a couple of years and served for a short time as a bankruptcy judge in Los Angeles. He currently lives in genteel retirement, where he is finishing a reread of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War.


Of Interest:

Search Opens for New School of Law Dean

Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, invites nominations and applications for the position of Dean of the School of Law

Under the leadership of Dean Maureen Lally-Green (who is retiring in 2019) and President Kenneth G. Gormley, a former dean of the School of Law, Duquesne’s School of Law continues to rise in national stature. With stable enrollments, innovative offerings, and a high bar passage rate, the School of Law is exceptionally well positioned for future success.

The Search Committee will begin reviewing candidates immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Nominations and applications should be submitted electronically as soon as possible. Applications should include a letter of candidacy that responds to the agenda for leadership and the desired attributes for the new Dean and a complete résumé or vita.

All application materials will be considered in full confidence and should be submitted electronically to To make a nomination, or express interest, all confidential communications may be directed to Ms. Julie Tea, Partner, and Ms. Julie Williams-Krishnan, Senior Associate, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, LP at