52 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2009 Last revised: 12 Nov 2013

See all articles by Douglas G. Baird

Douglas G. Baird

University of Chicago Law School

Robert K. Rasmussen

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: April 29, 2009


In large Chapter 11 cases, the prototypical creditor is no longer a small player holding a claim much like everyone else’s, but rather a distressed debt professional advancing her own agenda. Secured creditors are more pervasive and enjoy much more control than they had even a decade ago. Moreover, financial innovation has dramatically increased the complexity of each investor's position. As a result of these and other changes, the legal system faces today a challenge that is much like assembling a city block that has been broken up into many parcels. There exists an anti-commons problem, a world in which ownership interests are fragmented and conflicting. This is quite at odds with the standard account of Chapter 11 - that it solves a tragedy of the commons, the collective action problem that exists when general creditors share numerous dispersed, but otherwise similar, interests. This paper draws on the lessons of cooperative game theory to show how in combination these recent changes are toxic. They undermine the coalition formation process that is a foundational assumption of Chapter 11.

Suggested Citation

Baird, Douglas G. and Rasmussen, Robert K., Anti-Bankruptcy (April 29, 2009). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 119, p. 648, 2010; USC CLEO Research Paper No. C09-8; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 09-9; U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 470. Available at SSRN: or

Douglas G. Baird

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-9571 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

Robert K. Rasmussen (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0071
United States
213-740-6473 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics