Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Implications of inefficiency in theories of market failure reveal a flawed methodology. Behavior which is apparently inefficient is actually the symptom of an inappropriate analytical model. The standard examples of market failure, monopoly power and external effects, are forthcoming only from models which omit transactions costs as explanatory variables. The unfortunate consequence of this conclusion is that complete and appropriate economic models, which incorporate all relevant variables, will always certify any behavior as efficient. This poses the ‘Panglossian dilemma’, that whatever is, is optimal. This dilemma is resolved by an analytical approach which compares behavior under alternative economic institutions. This analysis depends on two propositions: that transactions costs are affected by alternative institutional environments; and that institutions are themselves responses to the existence of transactions costs. These propositions are used to predict behavior under alternative institutions, and to explain the long run evolution of the institutions.
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