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Fragile markets: An experiment on judicial independence

Contract enforcement does not only affect single transactions but the market as a whole. We compare alternative institutions that allocate enforcement rights to the different parties to a credit transaction: either lenders, borrowers, or judges. Despite all parties having incentives to enforce and transact, the market flourishes or disappears depending on the treatment: paying judges according to lenders' votes maximizes total surplus and equity; and a similar result appears when judges are paid according to average earnings in society. In contrast, paying judges according to borrowers' votes generates the poorest and most unequal society. These results suggest that parties playing the role of borrowers understand poorly the systemic consequences of their decisions, triggering under-enforcement, and hence wasting profitable trade opportunities.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1031.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision: May 2016
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1031
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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