Of markets and middlemen
AbstractUsing survey data on traders and brokers in the Ethiopian foodgrain market, this paper reveals that the brokerage institution is critical to market performance in that it enables traders to circumvent the commitment problem of long-distance trade with unknown partners. In the absence of grain standardization, public information, and legal contract enforcement, brokers act as inspectors and guarantors of each transaction. The paper analyzes the sources of commitment failure, the role and functions of brokers and the extent of brokerage use by brokers, and argues that agency relations are not based on ethnicity, depend on effective reputation rather than trust, and are structured in an incentive-compatible manner.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series MTID discussion papers with number 39.
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
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- Geertz, Clifford, 1978. "The Bazaar Economy: Information and Search in Peasant Marketing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 28-32, May.
- Heytens, Paul J., 1986. "Testing Market Integration," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 01.
- Paul R. Milgrom & Douglass C. North & Barry R. Weingast, 1990. "The Role Of Institutions In The Revival Of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, And The Champagne Fairs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, 03.
- Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
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