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Credible Commitment in Early Modern Europe: North and Weingast Revisited

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  • David Stasavage

Abstract

This article proposes a revision to existing arguments that institutions of limited government (characterized by multiple veto points) improve the ability of governments to credibly commit. Focusing on the issue of sovereign indebtedness, I present a simple framework for analyzing credibility problems in an economy divided between owners of land and owners of capital. I then argue that establishing multiple veto points can improve credibility, but whether this takes place depends upon the structure of partisan interests in a society, on the existence of cross-issue coalitions, and on the extent to which management of government debt is delegated. I develop several propositions to take account of these factors and evaluate them with historical evidence from eighteenth century England and France. The results show that incorporating these additional factors can help to explain a broader range of phenomena than is accounted for in existing studies. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

Volume (Year): 18 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 155-186

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:18:y:2002:i:1:p:155-186

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Cited by:
  1. Svetlana Andrianova & Panicaos Demetriades & Chenggang Xu, 2008. "Political Economy Origins of Financial Markets in Europe and Asia," WEF Working Papers 0034, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
  2. Kai A. Konrad & Thomas R. Cusack, 2013. "Hanging Together or Being Hung Separately: The Strategic Power of Coalitions where Bargaining Occurs with Incomplete Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 4071, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2002. "Boondoogles and expropriation : rent-sseking and policy distortion when property rights are insecure," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2910, The World Bank.
  4. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.
  5. Luis C. Corchon, 2004. "Forms Of Governance And The Size Of Rent-Seeking," Economics Working Papers we041905, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. Noel D., Johnson & Mark, Koyama, 2012. "Standardizing the fiscal state: cabal tax farming as an Intermediate Institution in early-modern England and France," MPRA Paper 40403, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Konrad, Kai A. & Cusack, Thomas R., 2013. "Hanging Together or Being Hung Separately: The Strategic Power of Coalitions where Bargaining Occurs with Incomplete Information," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79967, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  8. repec:cge:warwcg:171 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2013. "Africa's Growth Prospects in a European mirror: a Historical Perspective," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 172, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  10. Mikael Priks, 2005. "Optimal Rent Extraction in Pre-Industrial England and France – Default Risk and Monitoring Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 1464, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Stephen Broadberry & Leigh Gardner, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  12. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2014. "Tax farming and the origins of state capacity in England and France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1-20.
  13. Stephen Quinn, 2008. "Securitization of Sovereign Debt: Corporations as a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism in Britain, 1694-1750," Working Papers 200701, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.

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