Professor Oranburg’s New Book Details the History of Financial Technology and Regulation

Seth OranburgDuquesne University Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Business Essentials for Lawyers Micro-credential Program Seth Oranburg recently published A History of Financial Technology and Regulation, taking readers on a journey from American incorporation to cryptocurrency and crowdfunding. The book is based on what Oranburg explains are the three eras of security regulation, which he details from a legal perspective.

Oranburg names the first era the "Wild West," a period that existed before there was any federal financial regulation. Subheadings in this period include "Under a Buttonwood Tree," "The Golden Spike," and "Roar and Crash." This era marked the construction of railroads connecting the United States and the rise and crash of the stock market. Oranburg details how the lack of financial regulation, enabled by laissez-fair economic policy and a "hands-off" governmental role in the marketplace, led to the devastating stock market collapse.

Oranburg aptly names the second period "The Electric Light Era," illuminating how the Crash and the following Great Depression led to new policies and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Oranburg details how Louis Brandeis, a liberal jurist on the Supreme Court of the United States, helped shape FDR's policies on the regulation of finance.

According to Oranburg, "FDR's New Deal was a massive overreaching expanse of the federal government. The Supreme Court held FDR's plan unconstitutional because it said that the federal government exercised the power of preemption instead of powers reserved to the states. FDR created agencies, which made rules that preempted contrary state rules. But the Supreme Court was more traditional and held that FDR's plan would erode the federal system of government. In response, FDR famously threatened to pack the court. Executive agencies were now making rules and the line between rule and law was unclear. Some 40 agencies were created in this period, including the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC], Federal Trade Commission [FTC], Housing and Urban Development [HUD], and the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]," Oranburg said.

The period we are in now and the third in his book is the "Social Media Investing Era." Much change has come in this period that began in 1999. Oranburg details the dot-com bubble, social media activism, cryptographic theory and decentralized finance, cryptocurrency regulation, and crowd funding.

"You see change when there is a crisis and we are now again in one like 1929 where you have a crash followed by regulations," Oranburg said. He said this period may lead him into authoring another book where he will examine what will happen to law tech as we move into this meta verse. "It's a world that nobody owns and exists in thousands of computers," he said.

In addition to this book, Oranburg is author of many flagship law review articles about financial regulation, including Hyperfunding, which explains how celebrity entrepreneurs like Elon Musk use influence to attract investment. He also writes about how contractual law and commerce are impacted by technologies like smart contracts and the metaverse.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

It's time for bigger goals
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