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LAW ENFORCEMENT UNDER INCOMPLETE LAW: Theory and Evidence from Financial Market Regulation

  • Katharina Pistor
  • Chenggang Xu

This paper studies the design of law-making and law enforcement institutions based on the premise that law is inherently incomplete. Under incomplete law, law enforcement by courts may suffer from deterrence failure, defined as the socialwelfare loss that results from the regime's inability to deter harmful actions. As a potential remedy a regulatory regime is introduced. The major functional difference between courts and regulators is that courts enforce law reactively, that is only once others have initiated law enforcement procedures, while regulators enforce law proactively, i.e. on their own initiative. Proactive law enforcement may be superior in preventing harm. However, it incurs high costs and may err in stopping potentially beneficial activities. We study optimal regime selection between a court and a regulatory regime and present evidence from the history of financial market regulation

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings with number 791.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:791
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  1. Rafael Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "What Works in Securities Laws?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(1), pages 1-32, 02.
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  13. Priest, George L, 1993. "The Origins of Utility Regulation and the "Theories of Regulation" Debate," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 289-323, April.
  14. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Victor P. Goldberg, 1976. "Regulation and Administered Contracts," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(2), pages 426-448, Autumn.
  18. Richard A. Posner, 1974. "Theories of Economic Regulation," NBER Working Papers 0041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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