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Law and Finance "at the Origin"

Author

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  • Ulrike Malmendier

Abstract

What are the key determinants of financial development and growth? A large literature debates the relative importance of countries' legal and political environment. In this paper, I present evidence from ancient Rome, where an early form of shareholder company, the societas publicanorum, developed. I show that the societas publicanorum flourished in a legally underdeveloped but politically supportive environment (Roman Republic) and disappeared when Roman law reached its height of legal sophistication but the political environment grew less supportive (Roman Empire). In the Roman case, legal development appears to have mattered little as long as the law as practiced was flexible and adapted to economic needs. The "law as practiced," in turn, reflected prevalent political interests. After discussing parallels in more recent history, I provide a brief overview of the literature on law and finance and on politics and finance. The historical evidence suggests that legal systems may be less of a technological constraint for growth than previously thought -- at least "at the origin." (JEL D72, K10, N23, N43)

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrike Malmendier, 2009. "Law and Finance "at the Origin"," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1076-1108, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:47:y:2009:i:4:p:1076-1108
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.47.4.1076
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arruñada, Benito, 2016. "How Rome enabled impersonal markets," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 68-84.
    2. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Oscar Gelderblom & Joost Jonker & Enrico C. Perotti, 2017. "The Emergence of the Corporate Form," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(2), pages 193-236.
    3. repec:eee:empfin:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:108-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Beck, Thorsten & Feyen, Erik, 2013. "Benchmarking financial systems : introducing the financial possibility frontier," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6615, The World Bank.
    5. Andrew Ellul & Marco Pagano & Fausto Panunzi, 2010. "Inheritance Law and Investment in Family Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2414-2450, December.
    6. Laeven, Luc & Levine, Ross & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2015. "Financial innovation and endogenous growth," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-24.
    7. Kevin Sheedy & Bernardo Guimaraes, 2011. "A model of equilibrium institutions," 2011 Meeting Papers 49, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," eabh Papers 16-03, The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH).
    9. Ross Levine & Yona Rubinstein, 2017. "Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Do They Earn More?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(2), pages 963-1018.
    10. Berkowitz, Daniel & Hoekstra, Mark & Schoors, Koen, 2014. "Bank privatization, finance, and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 93-106.
    11. repec:eee:jbfina:v:89:y:2018:i:c:p:169-191 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Syed Ali, Salman, 2012. "Islamic Banking in the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) Region," Islamic Economic Studies, The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), vol. 20, pages 1-44.
    13. repec:pid:journl:v:55:y:2016:i:4:p:437-453 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Enrico Perotti, 2013. "The Political Economy of Finance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-034/IV/DSF53, Tinbergen Institute.
    15. Benito Arruñada, 2015. "The institutions of Roman markets," Economics Working Papers 1471, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    16. Beck, T.H.L., 2011. "The Role of Finance in Economic Development : Benefits, Risks, and Politics," Discussion Paper 2011-141, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    17. Syed Ali, Salman, 2015. "Islamic Banking in the MENA Region," Working Papers 1433-1, The Islamic Research and Teaching Institute (IRTI).
    18. Poitras, Geoffrey & Geranio, Manuela, 2016. "Trading of shares in the Societates Publicanorum?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 95-118.
    19. Marie-Laure Djelic & Joel Bothello, 2013. "Limited liability and its moral hazard implications: the systemic inscription of instability in contemporary capitalism," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/153e5es3a89, Sciences Po.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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