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Economics and Politics of Alternative Institutional Reforms

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  • Francesco Caselli
  • Nicola Gennaioli

Abstract

We compare the economic consequences and political feasibility of reforms aimed at reducing barriers to entry (deregulation) and improving contractual enforcement (legal reform). Deregulation fosters entry, thereby increasing the number of firms (entrepreneurship) and the average quality of management (meritocracy). Legal reform also reduces financial constraints on entry, but in addition it facilitates transfers of control of incumbent firms, from untalented to talented managers. Since when incumbent firms are better run entry by new firms is less profitable, in general equilibrium legal reform may improve meritocracy at the expense of entrepreneurship. As a result, legal reform encounters less political opposition than deregulation, as it preserves incumbents' rents, while at the same time allowing the less efficient among them to transfer control and capture (part of) the resulting efficiency gains. Using this insight, we show that there may be dynamic complementarities in the reform path, whereby reformers can skillfully use legal reform in the short run to create a constituency supporting future deregulations. Generally speaking, our model suggests that "Coasian" reforms improving the scope of private contracting are likely to mobilize greater political support because -- rather than undermining the rents of incumbents -- they allow for an endogenous compensation of losers. Some preliminary empirical evidence supports the view that the market for control of incumbent firms plays an important role in an industry's response to legal reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2007. "Economics and Politics of Alternative Institutional Reforms," NBER Working Papers 12833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12833
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    5. Djankov, Simeon, 2008. "The Regulation of Entry: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 7080, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Bonfiglioli, Alessandra, 2012. "Investor protection and income inequality: Risk sharing vs risk taking," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 92-104.
    7. Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2009. "The de Soto Effect," CEPR Discussion Papers 7259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2011. "Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9624.
    9. António Antunes & Tiago Cavalcanti & Anne Villamil, 2015. "The effects of credit subsidies on development," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 58(1), pages 1-30, January.
    10. Galiani, Sebastian & Torrens, Gustavo, 2014. "Autocracy, democracy and trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 173-193.
    11. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Aney, Madhav S & Morelli, Massimo, 2013. "Can Market Failure Cause Political Failure?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 122, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Jaax, Alexander, 2020. "Private sector development and provincial patterns of poverty: Evidence from Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    13. Aney, Madhav S. & Ghatak, Maitreesh & Morelli, Massimo, 2016. "Credit market frictions and political failure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 48-64.
    14. Russo Francesco Flaviano, 2018. "Informality: the Doorstep of the Legal System," Open Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 49-70, June.
    15. Madhav S, Aney & Maitreesh Ghatak & Massimo Morelli, 2011. "Can Market Failure Cause Political Failure?," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 029, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    16. Jacopo Ponticelli & Leonardo S. Alencar, 2016. "Court Enforcement, Bank Loans, and Firm Investment: Evidence from a Bankruptcy Reform in Brazil," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1365-1413.
    17. Kira Boerner & Christa Hainz, 2009. "The political economy of corruption and the role of economic opportunities1," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 17(2), pages 213-240, April.
    18. Gurvich, Evsey, 2016. "Institutional constraints and economic development," Russian Journal of Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 349-374.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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