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Coase v. the Coasians

  • Simon Johnson
  • Andrei Shleifer

The Coase theorem implies that, in a world of positive transaction costs, any of a number of strategies, including judicially enforced private contracts, judicially enforced laws, or even government regulation, may be the cheapest way to bring about efficient resource allocation. Unfortunately, some Coasians have ignored the possibility that the last of these strategies may sometimes be the best. This paper compares the regulation of financial markets in Poland and the Czech Republic in the 1990s, when the judicial systems remained underdeveloped in both countries. In Poland, strict enforcement of the securities law by an independent Securities and Exchange Commission was associated with rapid development of the stock market. In the Czech Republic, hands-off regulation was associated with a near collapse of the stock market. These episodes illustrate the centrality of law enforcement in making markets work, and the possible role of regulators in law enforcement.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7447.

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Date of creation: Dec 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Edward Glaeser & Simon Johnson & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Coase Versus The Coasians," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 853-899, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7447
Note: CF PE
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