1MARKET AND GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS: THE ECONOMICS Girton
OF EXCHANGE AND COOPERATION: ECONOMICS 3370 Fall 2012
Off: OSH 344
Off. Hrs: Tue/Wed. 4:00-6:00, and by Appointment Girton@economics.utah.edu
"Few things are harder to observe clearly...than the ordinary, everyday aspect of things."
Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s
STRUCTURE OF THE COURSE
Lectures and class discussion will cover the main topics. There is not an assigned text for the course. The reading list contains several items on each topic. Within each topic, the readings are ordered with the highest recommended readings first.
Starred(*) readings are on reserve. I do not expect that you will have time to cover all the readings. The reading list may guide you in writing essays, term papers, and book reviews.
We will focus on the theory and application of the economic topics covered. An important part of the class will be to apply the theories and concepts to practical examples drawn from everyday life. To practice applying the concepts and theories developed in the class, you should regularly read relevant newspaper articles. Also, reflecting on your own individual situation as an economic agent and social being should reinforce and make more concrete the concepts and ideas.
1. Class Participation 30%
2. Written Work: Book Reviews, Essays, Term Papers,
and assignments 30%
3. Final Exam (Take-Home) 40%
Thirty percent of your grade will be based on class participation. In determining this part of your grade I will look at the following: Did you regularly contribute to class discussion? Did you keep abreast of the lectures and readings? Were your comments and questions to the point and insightful; did they demonstrate a grasp of the subject matter?
The form of the written work is flexible. You can do book reviews, essays, and/or a term paper. Written work will get up to one and a half points per page. Unacceptable written work will receive zero points.
GUIDE FOR WRITTEN WORK
: Written work, including research papers
, essays, and book reviews, will be judged primarily on substance, but grammar and style are also important. Thoughtful well-written work will be awarded one point per page.
All written work must be typed and contain a careful documentation of sources. Your work should be clearly written and have a sound logical structure. This is facilitated by working from an outline and by rewriting. Poorly written work, that does not show a reasonable amount of care and attention, will not be graded.
Papers should be clearly organized, with structure and direction - again, work from an outline. The title of the paper should clearly indicate the subject (do not use cutesy titles). The first paragraph must give a clear description of the content of the paper. A clear and commonly used three part structure is: in the introduction say what you intend to do, in the body of the paper do it, and in a concluding section review or summarize what you have done. Paragraphs should usually begin with a topic sentence. Do not expect your first draft to be the best that you can do - write, read, critique, think about, rewrite.
Book Reviews: Book reviews should include a clear discussion of the following questions: Why was the book written - what was the purpose? What is the central argument of the book? What are the major points? What is the author(s) arguing against? How is the book related to the course? In addition to reporting, also evaluate and critique the book.
Guides to Clear and Effective Writing: Poor writing is vague, confusing, and a pain to read. Good writing in clear, simple, well organized, and to the point. To facilitate development of a clear and effective writing style you are encouraged to buy one or more of the following brief, and inexpensive, practical guides. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E. B. White, is the classic brief guide to clear and effective writing. The Writing of Economics, by Donald McCloskey, is a useful and concise guide to clear and effective writing. The Most Common Mistakes in English Usage, by Thomas Elliott Berry, lists common problems and how to correct them.
PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND BASIC MICROECONOMIC CONCEPT
Aug. 22 INTRODUCTION AND SURVEY OF THE COURSE
1. Objectives of the Class: To enhance your ability to think like an economist - to be able to use the economic approach to examine common everyday real world issues, and to understand the economic role of institutions in facilitating cooperation and mutually beneficial exchange.
What factors determine the proper roles of private markets and government in the economy, i.e., in supporting economic cooperation and exchange between individuals?
3. Introduction to Market and Government Institutions
__ The Importance of Exchange Between Autonomous Individuals
__ The Role of Institutions and Organizations in Reducing Transactions Costs Between Self-Interested Individuals
__ The Role of the Market in Coordinating Economic Activity
__ Visible and Invisible Guiding Hands of Organizations and Markets in Providing Individual Incentives
From Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, “In civilized society he (the individual) stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons... But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them...It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”
__ There is little attention given by Smith in The Wealth of Nations
, public or private, that facilitate cooperation and coordination of groups of individuals.
The Crucial Role of Institutions and Organizations in Economic Performance
__ Adam Smith: Division of Labor and Specialization produces growth (is the Engine of Growth). But specialization puts a heavy weight on interpersonal exchange and mechanisms coordinating individual activities and facilitating cooperation.
6. The ‘Coase Theorem’ and the Importance of Transactions Costs
Douglas North: Application of the New Institutional Economics to the Development and “The New Economic History”
7. Imperfect and Asymmetric Information
8. The New Institutional Economics: Institutions and Organizations evolve to Reduce Costs of Cooperation and Coordination: According to North, “Institutions are the rules of the game and organizations are the actors in the economic game.”
10. The Autonomous Individual vs the Group [On ‘Methodological Individualism’, see Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order, and von Mises, Human Action, p. 41-44 (4th revised ed., 1996). For a comprehensive essay see the article on “Methodological Individualism” at www.Plato.Stanford.edu.
__ Decision Making by Self-Interested Individuals, given Social/ Cultural Norms and Values, with Individuals Seeking After Peer Approval - The Role of Socialization
11. In a Pure Exchange Model, Transactions Costs Limit Exchange Between Individuals, i.e., Limit Specialization and Division of Labor, and Limit Economic Development and Growth
12. Outline of the Course
Aug. 29 THE STANDARD ECONOMIC MODEL, BASIC MICROECONOMIC CONCEPTS, AND THE ROLE OF INSTITUTIONS
1. The Standard Economic Model: rational, informed, self-interested individuals; profit-maximizing firms operating in perfectly competitive markets; with zero transactions costs (including perfect information). All impediments to individuals making mutually beneficial exchanges are assumed away. Looked at from another angle, markets (magically) get the institutions required for efficiency.
__ The logic of Constrained Optimization and Individual Choice
__ Scarcity and Choice
__ Does Pursuit of Individual Self-Interest Promote The Social Good?
The Basic Economic Decisions Involving Economic Coordination
to Uses Available Resources - Production Efficiency
__ What Combinations of Goods and Services to Produce
__ Who Gets the Goods and Services Produced - Distribution
Basic Concepts in Welfare Economics
__ Concepts of Economic Efficiency and Efficiency Loss
__ Static Efficiency: Exhaustion of all Possibilities to Get Something for Nothing
__ Dynamic Efficiency: Incentives to encourage Innovation and Growth
__ Incentives to reduce costs and develop new goods and services and new ways of doing things [vs traditional societies where individuals may incur social cost (peer disapproval) for trying to reduce costs or introduce new ways of performing economic activities of production, exchange, and consumption]
4. Economic Analysis of Taxes: taxes keep individuals from making exchanges that would be mutually beneficial
Consumer Surplus and Producer Rents
5. Efficiency vs Fairness (Distribution, equality)
6. Equity, or Equality, vs Efficiency: Independent or Interdependent - Incentive effects and Property Rights Enforcement Costs
7. Redistribution and Social Insurance: See Rawls.
8. Use of Demand and Supply Diagram to Provide Money Measures of Utility, Costs, and Efficiency Losses
9. Economics of Cooperation and Coordination
__ The Invisible Hand
__ Conflict vs Cooperation
10. Information Economics
11. Transactions Costs and Institutions
PART 2: MARKETS AND SOCIETY, AND THE ROLE OF MARKET PRICES
Sept. 5 THE ECONOMIC ROLE OF MARKETS AND EXCHANGE
1. What do Markets do?
Individual Decision Making and Group Coordination
__ Rational Self-Interested Decision Making
__ How a Market Based Economy Answers Basic Economic Questions: What will be produced?; How will it be produced?; and Who will get to consume the goods and services produced?
3. Market Prices
__ Provide Information
__ As Signals
4. The Concept of Economic Effiency
5. The Central Role of Individual Incentives
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF MARKET FAILURES?
“There are subtle but important differences between the allocationist-maximization and the catallactic-coordination paradigm in terms of the implications for normative evaluation of institutions. [Note: Catallactic, pertaining to exchange; catalactics (n.), study of commercial exchange; thus, catallactic approach focus on individual exchange, the theory of exchange] In particular the evaluation of the market order may depend critically on which of these partially conflicting paradigms remains dominant in ones stylized vision. To the allocationist the market is efficient if it works. His test of the market becomes the comparison with the abstract ideal defined in his logic. To the catallactist the market coordinates the separate activities of self-seeking persons without the necessity of detailed political direction. The test of the market is the comparison with its institutional alternative, politicized decision making.” (James Buchanan, Nobel Address, 1987)
1. What exactly do we mean by “market failure”?
2. J. K. Galbraith believed that individual tastes are endogenous, manipulated by big business, that competitive markets are a myth, and that the real world choice is between private power exercised by giant corporations and the wealthy, or power exercised collectively through democratically elected governments.
3. Importance of Information (Costly and Asymmetric Information)
__ Transactions and Bargaining Costs (and Coase)
If transactions costs are zero, then private bargaining and exchange will eliminate all efficiency losses - from externalities, monopoly, etc. - All Mutually Beneficial Exchanges Will be Made.
__ Exogenous Tastes and Preferences
__ Competitive Markets vs Market Power
4. Market Failures: Transactions and Bargaining Costs
5. Externalities: Pigouvian vs Coasian Approaches
__ The Coase Theorem - Externalities and Monopoly Power
__ Public Goods
6. The Problem of the Commons and Property Rights
Sept. 12 HOW DO TRANSACTIONS COSTS AND IMPERFECT INFORMATION
AFFECT MARKETS AND ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR?
1. Transactions Costs: Costs of Using Markets and Costs of Using Organizations (including Government Organizations)
__ Bargaining Costs and Strategic Behavior
__ Commitment Problems and the Limits of Rationality
__ Free Rider and Holdout
2. Asymmetric Information and Adverse Selection
__ Monitoring Costs - Moral Hazard and Principal/Agent Problems
3. Examples and Implications of Market Failures in:
Financial Markets, Labor Markets, Output Markets
Sept. 19 THE ROLE OF MARKETS IN SOCIETY
__ Efficiency vs Justice
__ Fairness and Equality
__ Equality of Opportunity vs Equal Outcome
__ What Determines Individual Rewards: Endowment, Effort, Chance
__ Equality vs Individual Freedom/Liberty
__ Does “Commodification” of Things Change Values?
PART 3: HUMAN NATURE, ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR, AND THE EVOLUTION OF INSTITUTIONS
Sept.26 THEORIES OF HUMAN NATURE AND COOPERATION
“Settlement may seem a natural choice to us, but it requires a set of wrenching adjustments for hunter-gatherers. They must learn to live with strangers. They must abandon the freedom to move away from danger or from people they don’t get along with. They must yield their firmly egalitarian way of life for a hateful social order of superior and inferior, rife with rules and priests and officials.” Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors, by Nicholas Wade, 2006 (p. 101)
1. Alternative Theories of the Nature of Man
Rational Economic Man
Adam Smith’s View
2. The Limits of Rationality:
__ Bounded Rationality: Scarce Information, Cognition, and Time
3. Commitment Problems
__ Rationality and Irrationality vs Purposeful
__ Group Norms and Individual Behavior
__ Education and Socialization of the Young
__ Ethics, Morality, and Religion
4. Individual vs Group Rationality
Oct. 3 ORIGINS and LIMITS OF COOPERATIVE BEHAVIOR: COMMITMENT, FREE RIDER, and HOLDOUT PROBLEMS
1. If there are potential gains from exchange/cooperation in a group, would we expect to see cooperation?
2. Free Riding and The Prisoner’s Dilemma
3. Is Human Propensity for Cooperative Behavior ‘Hardwired’?
__ Is Propensity for Cooperation a Beneficial Characteristic for Individual Survival?
__ The Problem of Mimicry.
4. If you were a used care salesperson would you want Pinoccheo’s Nose?
2. Some Thoughts from Sociobiology
__ Why do the young appear to take more risks?
__ What is the decision making unit?
__ Altruism, or disguised self-interest
__ The Limits of Rationality
Oct. 10 Fall Break
Oct. 17 EVOLUTION OF ECONOMIC INSTITUTIONS
“While institutions frame all human behavior, it is through organizations that people carry out complex social interactions. Understanding human development requires understanding how institutions shape the kind of organizations available for sustainable human cooperation.”
(North, Wallis, and Weingast, “A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History”, NBER Working Paper #12795 p 3 (www.nber.org/papers/w12795
1. Examples of External/Visible Institutions: Constitutions, Legal Structures
2. Organizations: The Role of Organizations in Facilitating Specialization and the Division of Labor
-- Voluntary Organizations: private for profit (firms); private non-profit (Associations, see Tocqueville); and Governmental Organizations
__ Voluntary vs Coercive Organizations
5. Constitutional Economics
__ Economic Analysis of the Rules of the Game
__ Choosing the Constraints
Oct. 24 ECONOMICS ANALYSIS OF LEGAL INSTITUTIONS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
“All those in positions of political power, all governments, all kings, and all republican authorities have always looked askance at private property. There is an inherent tendency in all governmental power to recognize no restraints on its operation and to extend the sphere of its dominion as much as possible. ...Private property creates for the individual a sphere in which he is free of the state. It sets limits to the operation of the authoritarian will. It allows other forces to arise side by side with and in opposition to political power. It thus becomes the basis of all those activities that are free from violent interference on the part of the state.”
(Ludwig von Mises, The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth
, pp. 67-75; reprinted in The Market Economy: A Reader
, Doti and Lee, p.85.)
1. Economics and Law
__ The Role of Laws in Reducing Transactions Costs and Facilitating Mutually Beneficial Exchanges
__ Property Rights and Incentives
__ Contract Law and Time Inconsistency
__ Torts and Incentives
2. Importance of Adaptability vs Predictability of Legal Rules
__ Common Law vs Statute Law
3. Different Schools of Law and Economics
__ Fairness vs Economic Efficiency
__ Analysis of Power vs The Gains from Trade
__ Chicago School, Public Choice Theory, Institutional
__ Critical Legal Studies vs Economic Approaches
4. Theories of Justice: Utilitarian and Focus on Outcomes vs The Importance of Process and Natural Rights Views
PART 4: THE ECONOMIC ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS: PRIVATE (VOLUNTARY) AND GOVERNMENTAL (COERCIVE)
“Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types–religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute. Americans combine to give fetes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books, and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons, and schools take shape in that way. Finally, if they want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association. In every case, at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association.”
(p. 513) (Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Oct. 31 THE ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS: (PRIVATE FOR PROFIT AND NON-PROFIT) AND GOVERNMENTAL IN FACILITATING COOPERATION AND IN COORDINATION ECONOMIC ACTIVITY
1. From the Perspective of the New Institutional Economics
__ The Design of Organizations to Reduce/Minimize Transactions Costs
__ The Function of Organizations in Economizing on Costly Information
2. Principal Agent Issues Within & Between Organizations
__ Imperfect Contracting and Risk Management
__ Credible Commitments and Reciprocity
__ Property Rights and Institutional Policies
__ Property Rights and Incentive to Innovation
3. Economic Theories of Organizational Structure and Individual Behavior in Organizations
__ Determinants of Organizational Structure
__ Asset Specificity
__ Influence Costs - how are organizational strategies and tactics determined?
__ A basic trade-off between individual incentives and information flow in work groups and in the organization
4. The Importance of Large Private Organizations (esp. the modern corporation) in a Market Economy
5. The Modern Corporation __ Use of transfer pricing in multi-division organizations
__ The famous Fisher Body case/example (GM and Fisher Brothers)
6. Public (Government) vs Private Organizations
__ Government (defn.) Has a monopoly over the legitimate use of coercion.
__ Coercion and Power: Defn. Choice? Artificial limits to choice, ex. Sharecropper has choice between sharecropping for several land owners, but no choice to own land. Are substitutes available at little difference in price?
Nov. 7 THE ECONOMIC ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND THE CONTROL OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY: SOCIAL CHOICE THEORY
Adam Smith gives as the initial impetus for government, the need to protect property. “It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security....The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government.” ( )
1. Response to Market Failures
2. Distribution and Equity; Efficiency vs Equity - a tradeoff?
3. Size and Role of Government in the US
4. International Comparisons
__ Central Planning and the Soviet Union
__ Government and Business in the Japanese Economy
__ The Role of Incentives - China and Rural led Development
__ Developing Countries: Markets vs Central Planning
__ Development and Growth: Roles of Physical Capital, Technology, Development of Human Capital, Legal and Governmental Structures
__ Government: Efficiency, Equity, and Rent Seeking
5. The Debate over Markets vs Central Planning
__ Efficiency vs Equity and Pareto Conditions
__ Role of Information
__ Planning/Coordination and Individual Incentives
6. Government as Impartial Referee; as Regulator; as Manipulator (subsidies and taxes); as Producer
7. What is the relationship between economic and political freedom? Friedman’s view is that free markets promote political freedom because they separate economic power and political power.
Nov. 14 ECONOMIC THEORIES OF BEHAVIOR IN GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: PUBLIC CHOICE THEORY
According to Buchanan: “...the two central elements in public choice theories (are)(1)the conceptualization of politics, as exchange, and (2) the model of Homo economicus. The second of these elements is shared with social choice theory, which seeks to ground social choices on the values of utility-maximizing individuals. Where social choice theory and public choice theory differ-and dramatically-lies in the first element noted. Social choice theory does not conceptualize politics as complex exchange; rather politics is implicitly or explicitly modeled in the age-old conception that there must exist some unique and hence discoverable “best” result. This element in social choice theory, from Arrow on, stems directly(from) the allocative paradigm in orthodox economics, and the maximization of the social welfare function becomes little more than the extension of the standard efficiency calculus to the aggregative economy.
By contrast, the extension of the catallactic paradigm-the emphasis on the theory of exchange rather than allocation-to politics immediately calls attention to the institutional structure of political decision making.”
(James M. Buchanan, Lives of the Laureates (4th
ed.), 2004, pp.142-3)
1. Public Choice Theory - Apply Rational Choice Theory to Behavior in Government Organizations
__ Decision Making by Self-interested Individuals Under Institutional Constraints and Incentive Structures
2. Rent Seeking
3. Theories of Bureaucracy
__ Absence of a Bottom Line
__ Crises Management
4. Government Goods: Immediate Benefit and Deferred Recognition of Costs - Insurance example
5. Special Interests
6. Can Voter Surveys Overcome Special Interest Groups?
PART 5: THE HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE AND CURRENT ISSUES
Nov. 21 THE HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE: MARKETS AND GOVERNMENT
1. Free Rider Problem and The Rise and Decline of Nations
2. The Laffer Curve in History: An Unstable Dynamic?
3. What Types of Institutions and Organizations have Survived?
4. Do Institutions Evolve To Promoting Efficiency and Fairness?
5. The Concept of Social Capital and the Relationship Between Economic Efficiency and Fairness - Are economic outcomes perceived to be generated by a fair process?
6. Economic Development and Fundamental Change
7. Concentrated Power and Economic Change
8. Attitudes of Elites to Fundamental Change
Nov. 28 INSTITUTIONS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH
1. Institutional Development and the Colonial Legacy
Dec. 5 REVIEW OF COURSE
Dec. 12 FINAL EXAM (Take-Home)
Institutional Development in the Transition Economies
Institutional Development in Islam vs the West
Decentralized Decision Makings
Separation of Powers in Government
The Role of the Judiciary
Separation of Church and State
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