After the Big Bang? Obstacles to the emergence of the rule of law in post-communist societies
With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91, many economic reformers supported"Big Bang"privatization-the rapid transfer of state-owned enterprises to private individuals. It was hoped that Big Bang privatization would create the conditions for a demand-led evolution of legal institutions. But there was no theory to explain how this process of institutional evolution, including a legal framework for the protection of investors, would occur and, in fact, it has not yet occurred in Russia, in other former Soviet Union countries, in the Czech Republic, and elsewhere. A central reason for that, according to many scholars, is the weakness of the political demand for the rule of law. To shed light on this puzzle, the authors consider a model where the conditions for the emergence of the rule of law might be interpreted as highly favorable. Individuals with control rights over privatized assets can collectively bring about the rule of law simply by voting for it. These individuals are concerned with the wealth they can obtain from the privatized assets, and have two alternative strategies: building value and stripping assets. Building value under the rule of law yields higher benefits to a majority than stripping assets under no rule of law. But uncertainty about when the rule of law will be established may lead some individuals to choose an economic strategy-stripping assets, including converting corporate assets to private use-that gives them an interest in postponing the establishment of the rule of law. And therefore in the succeeding period, the rule of law may again not be in place, and so again individuals may strip assets. If they do, some of them may again have an interest in postponing the establishment of the rule of law. And so a weak demand for the rule of law can persist. The contribution of the paper is to show that the view that once stripping has occurred, the strippers will say"enough"and by supporting the rule of law seek public protection of their gains, is flawed. By abstracting from the obvious problem that strippers who obtain great wealth can buy special favored treatment from the state, the model highlights two less obvious flaws in the optimistic view about the Big Bang: First, that the asset-strippers can remove the assets from exposure to further stealing, and in that case they do not care about public protection for their gains. And second, that the perceived justice of a system is important to gaining the cooperation of those involved in the process of producing the rule of law (judges, regulators, jurors, potential offenders). Accordingly, state protection of asset strippers may be infeasible, even under an ostensible rule of law. Knowing this, strippers will be less supportive of the rule of law. The model makes one further point: what is at issue is how fast the rule of law will emerge. The presumption of the Big Bang strategy was that the faster state property was turned over to private hands, the faster a true market economy, including the rule of law, would be established. The analysis shows that, even if eventually a rule of law is established, the Big Bang may put into play forces that delay the establishment of the rule of law. The tortoise once again may beat the hare! Finally, the authors analyze the impact of certain policies, such as the particular structure of privatization and monetary policy. Policies that enhance the returns to investment and wealth creation rather than assetstripping not only serve to strengthen the economy in the short run, but enhance political support for the rule of law and thus put it in a position for stronger long-term growth.
|Date of creation:||31 Dec 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/Email:
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Roland, Gérard & Verdier, Thierry, 2000.
"Law Enforcement and Transition,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
2501, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Gerard Roland & Thierry Verdier, 1999. "Law Enforcement and Transition," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 262, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Roland, G. & Verdier, T., 2000. "Law Enforcement and Transition," DELTA Working Papers 2000-25, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Leonid Polishchuk & Alexei Savvateev, 2004. "Spontaneous (non)emergence of property rights," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 12(1), pages 103-127, 03.
- Olivier Blanchard & Michael Kremer, 1997.
William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series
38, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Haltiwanger, John & Waldman, Michael, 1991.
"Responders versus Non-responders: A New Perspective on Heterogeneity,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1085-1102, September.
- John Haltiwanger, 1987. "Responders Versus Nonresponders: A New Perspective on Heterogeneity," UCLA Economics Working Papers 436, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Jean-Jacques Laffont & David Martimort, 1999.
"Separation of Regulators Against Collusive Behavior,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 232-262, Summer.
- Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Martimort, David, 1994. "Separation of Regulators against Collusive Behavior," IDEI Working Papers 44, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 2002.
"Property Rights and Finance,"
NBER Working Papers
8852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Konstantin Sonin, 2003.
"Why the Rich May Favor Poor Protection of Property Rights,"
w0022, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
- Sonin, Konstantin, 2003. "Why the rich may favor poor protection of property rights," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 715-731, December.
- Konstantin Sonin, 2002. "Why the Rich May Favor Poor Protection of Property Rights," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 544, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Andrei Shleifer & Daniel Treisman, 2003.
"A Normal Country,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
2019, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Hellman, Joel S. & Jones, Geraint & Kaufmann, Daniel, 2003. "Seize the state, seize the day: state capture and influence in transition economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 751-773, December.
- Prakash Loungani & Paolo Mauro, 2000.
"Capital Flight from Russia,"
IMF Policy Discussion Papers
00/6, International Monetary Fund.
- Mathias Dewatripont & Gérard Roland, 1992.
"The virtues of gradualism and legitimacy in the transition to a market economy,"
ULB Institutional Repository
2013/9587, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Dewatripont, M & Roland, G, 1992. "The Virtues of Gradualism and Legitimacy in the Transition to a Market Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(411), pages 291-300, March.
- Dewatripont, Mathias & Roland, Gérard, 1991. "The Virtues of Gradualism and Legitimacy in the Transition to a Market Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-64, May.
- James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik & Thierry Verdier, 2003.
"Politcal Foundations of the Resource Curse,"
DELTA Working Papers
2003-33, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
- Hoff, Karla, 2008. "Joseph E. Stiglitz," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4478, The World Bank.
- 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.
- Daniel Kaufmann & Shang-Jin Wei, 1999.
"Does "Grease Money" Speed Up the Wheels of Commerce?,"
NBER Working Papers
7093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kaufmann, Daniel & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1999. "Does 'Grease Money' Speed Up the Wheels of Commerce?," MPRA Paper 8209, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Daniel Kaufmann & Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Does 'Grease Money' Speed Up the Wheels of Commerce?," IMF Working Papers 00/64, International Monetary Fund.
- Kaufman, Daniel & Shang-Jin Wei, 1999. "Does"grease money"speed up the wheels of commerce?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2254, The World Bank.
- Acemoglu, Daron, 1995.
"Reward structures and the allocation of talent,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
- Willem H. Buiter, 2000. "From Predation to Accumulation?: The Second Transition Decade in Russia," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(3), pages 603-622, November.
- Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
- Stanley L Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002.
"Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economics,"
NBER Working Papers
9259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development among New World Economies," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
- Frydman, Roman & Pistor, Katharina & Rapaczynski, Andrzej, 1996. "Exit and voice after mass privatization: The case of Russia," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 581-588, April.
- Crawford, Vincent P., 1991. "An "evolutionary" interpretation of Van Huyck, Battalio, and Beil's experimental results on coordination," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 25-59, February.
- Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-14, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2934. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.