Bankruptcy and Economic Recovery

In Restructuring Financial Infrastructure to Speed Recovery (Brookings Institution) Forthcoming

U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-27

38 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2013

See all articles by Thomas H. Jackson

Thomas H. Jackson

University of Rochester

David A. Skeel

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: July 2013


To measure economic growth or recovery, one traditionally looks to metrics such as the unemployment rate and the growth in GDP. And in terms of figuring out institutional policies that will stimulate economic growth, the focus most often is on policies that encourage investment, entrepreneurial enterprises, and reward risk-taking with appropriate returns. Bankruptcy academics that we are, we tend to add our own area of expertise to this stable — with the firm belief that thinking critically about bankruptcy policy is an important element of any set of institutions designed to speed economic recovery. In this paper, written for a book entitled "Restructuring Financial Infrastructure to Speed Recovery" to be published by the Brookings Institution, we outline the crucial role we believe bankruptcy plays in advancing a robust economy, while also identifying several areas in which we believe bankruptcy law — and practice — could be improved so as to enhance bankruptcy’s role in economic growth, including its recovery from periods of recession. Along the way, we suggest that a standard (and appropriate) baseline metric for successful economic policies, namely employment, if carried outside its macro focus so as to become an independent bankruptcy policy (as it often is), carries with it — usually inadvertently — the potential to undermine bankruptcy’s key role in facilitating economic growth.

Keywords: Bankruptcy, corporate reorganization, economic growth, employment, risk taking, incentive distortion, economic failure, financial failure, purpose of bankruptcy, asset mobility, delayed case commencement, use of assets. saving jobs, Chrysler bailout

JEL Classification: G33, H81, J63, J68, O43

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Thomas H. and Skeel, David A., Bankruptcy and Economic Recovery (July 2013). In Restructuring Financial Infrastructure to Speed Recovery (Brookings Institution) Forthcoming, U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-27, Available at SSRN:

Thomas H. Jackson

University of Rochester ( email )

300 Crittenden Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

David A. Skeel (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-573-9859 (Phone)
215-573-2025 (Fax)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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