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Monday, December 20, 2004

Govt. & business in a global age

The news last week that the Russian oil company Yukos had sought bankruptcy protection in American courts offered an interesting example of the phenomenon of "jurisdiction-shifting," one of several ways of exploiting fractures in a political structure to gain political advantage. In this case, Yukos is seeking protection in U.S. courts from the Russian state, in essence seeking to shift the struggle from one jurisdiction to another in hopes of gaining a more favorable hearing. Other techniques that emerged in battles between railroads and the American states in context of the U.S.'s federal-legislative structure in the 19th century: branch-shifting and level-shifting.

(For more, see Colleen A. Dunlavy, "Bursting Through State Limits: Lessons from American Railroad History," in Private Actors and Public Interest: The Role of the State in Regulated Economies, eds. Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson [Edward Elgar, 2001], which was inspired originally by legal historian Harry Scheiber's article "Federalism and the American Economic Order.")

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