Marius Müller at Berkeley Law School

Bucerius PhD candidate Marius Müller spent three months at Berkeley Law School conducting research in the field of law and economics. In this article, he explains his research and why the Joachim Herz US Exchange Program at Bucerius Law School for Young Legal Scholars proved to be such an enriching and rewarding experience for him.

Marius Müller, Joachim Herz Fellow, at Berkely Law School, USA

My doctoral research topic is rooted in the field of law and economics. More specifically, I work on an interdisciplinary research question related to capital markets law and financial economics. In my dissertation, I attempt to answer the question whether references to credit ratings in mutual fund prospectuses have potentially unfavorable effects on asset prices. I have been working on this topic under the supervision of Professor Hans-Bernd Schaefer since spring last year.

Following the 2007/2008 financial crisis, regulators have formulated globally co-ordinated responses to address weaknesses in the regulatory frameworks of the financial system. This includes efforts to remove credit ratings from rules and regulations. With the goal of assuring the stable and sustainable functioning of the financial system, it is necessary to evaluate regulatory measures and their implications after they have been introduced.

The interconnectedness of the global financial system requires regulation to be centrally co-ordinated. In the context of credit ratings, institutions such as the Financial Stability Board take on the role of harmonizing national rulemaking. In the specific case of reducing the influence of credit-rating changes on asset prices, the FSB issued soft law that was translated into national laws in both the United States and Europe. A thorough assessment of the topic therefore required the consideration of both European and US laws, as well as respective empirical data. The comparison of how centrally initiated measures have been translated into national laws allows for a conclusion to be drawn as to whether the regulatory aims initially set have been met.

Planning my research stay included the precise delineation of the research questions to be answered at the overseas institution. Furthermore, I conducted research into which faculty members at the law and business school had expertise in fields relevant to my research. For the empirical section of my work, I checked on the availability of databases and platforms that would allow me to access jurisdiction-specific datasets. Administrative preparations included making an early application for the J1 visa, securing student dormitory accommodation, and obtaining a US-specific extension to my health insurance.

My time in the US has been a valuable experience for both my research and personal development.  It allowed me to further develop my work through access to a wide variety of academic resources and repeated personal contact with scholars who have recently published on closely related research topics. My participation in a law school conference gave me the opportunity to present my research and receive feedback from other scholars. Living together and sharing free time with students from all over the world was a memorable experience that opened up new perspectives for me.