Insolvency practitioners from 88 countries describe how debt enforcement will proceed against an identical hotel about to default on its debt. We use the data on time, cost, and the likely disposition of the assets (preservation as a going concern vs. piecemeal sale) to construct a measure of the efficiency of debt enforcement in each country. This measure is strongly correlated with per capita income and legal origin and predicts debt market development. Several characteristics of debt enforcement procedures, such as the structure of appeals and avail- ability of floating charge finance, influence efficiency.
We present a new measure of legal protection of minority shareholders against expropriation by corporate insiders: the anti-self-dealing index. Assembled with the help of Lex Mundi law firms, the index is calculated for 72 countries based on legal rules prevailing in 2003, and focuses on private enforcement mechanisms, such as disclosure, approval, and litigation, that govern a specific self-dealing transaction. This theoretically grounded index predicts a variety of stock market outcomes, and generally works better than the previously introduced index of anti-director rights.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
In the last decade, economists have produced a considerable body of research suggesting that the historical origin of a country’s laws is highly correlated with a broad range of its legal rules and regulations, as well as with economic outcomes. We summarize this evidence and attempt a unified interpretation. We also address several objections to the empirical claim that legal origins matter. Finally, we assess the implications of this research for economic reform.
We present a model of uninformative persuasion in which individuals “think coarsely”: they group situations into categories, and apply the same model of inference to all situations within a category. Coarse thinking exhibits two features that persuaders take advantage of: (i) transference, whereby individuals transfer the informational content of a given message from situations in a category where it is useful to those where it is not, and (ii) framing, whereby objectively useless information influences individuals’ choice of category. The model sheds light on uninformative advertising and product branding, as well as on some otherwise anomalous evidence on mutual fund advertising.
Following legal realists, we model the causes and consequences of trial judges exercising discretion in finding facts in a trial. We identify two motivations for the exercise of such discretion: judicial policy preferences and judges’ aversion to reversal on appeal when the law is unsettled. In the latter case, judges exercising fact discretion find the facts that fit the settled precedents, even when they have no policy preferences. In a standard model of a tort, judicial fact discretion leads to setting of damages unpredictable from true facts of the case but predictable from knowledge of judicial preferences, distorts the number and severity of accidents, and generates welfare losses. It also encourages litigants to take extreme positions in court and raises the incidence of litigation relative to settlement, especially in new and complex disputes for which the law is unsettled.
Across countries, education and democracy are highly correlated. We motivate empirically and then model a causal mechanism explaining this correlation. In our model, schooling teaches people to interact with others and raises the benefits of civic participation, including voting and organizing. In the battle between democracy and dictatorship, democracy has a wide potential base of support but offers weak incentives to its defenders. Dictatorship provides stronger incentives to a narrower base. As education raises the benefits of civic engagement, it raises participation in support of a broad-based regime (democracy) relative to that in support of a narrow-based regime (dictatorship). This increases the likelihood of successful democratic revolutions against dictatorships, and reduces that of successful anti-democratic coups.
We investigate cross-country determinants of private credit, using new data on legal creditor rights and private and public credit registries in 129 countries. Both creditor protection through the legal system and information-sharing institutions are associated with higher ratios of private credit to gross domestic product, but the former is relatively more important in the richer countries. An analysis of legal reforms shows that credit rises after improvements in creditor rights and in information sharing. Creditor rights are remarkably stable over time, contrary to the hypothesis that legal rules are converging. Finally, legal origins are an important determinant of both creditor rights and information- sharing institutions. The analysis suggests that public credit registries, which are primarily a feature of French civil law countries, benefit private credit markets in developing countries. Copyright 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
We examine the effect of securities laws on stock market development in 49 countries. We find little evidence that public enforcement benefits stock markets, but strong evidence that laws mandating disclosure and facilitating private enforcement through liability rules benefit stock markets.
We present a model in which setting up and running a regulatory institution takes a fixed cost. As a consequence, the supply of regulation is limited by the extent of the market. We test three implications of this model. First, jurisdictions with larger populations affected by a given regulation are more likely to have it. Second, jurisdictions with lower incremental fixed costs of introducing and ad- ministering new regulations should regulate more. This implies that regulation spreads from higher to lower population jurisdictions, and that jurisdictions that build up transferable regulatory capabilities should regulate more intensely. Consistent with the model, we find that higher population U. S. states have more pages of legislation and adopt particular laws earlier in their history than do smaller states. We also find that the regulation of entry, the regulation of labor, and the military draft are more extensive in countries with larger populations, as well as in civil law countries, where we argue that the incremental fixed costs are lower.
We investigate the market for news under two assumptions: that readers hold beliefs which they like to see confirmed, and that newspapers can slant stories toward these beliefs. We show that, on the topics where readers share common beliefs, one should not expect accuracy even from competitive media: competition results in lower prices, but common slanting toward reader biases. On topics where reader beliefs diverge (such as politically divisive issues), however, newspapers segment the market and slant toward extreme positions. Yet in the aggregate, a reader with access to all news sources could get an unbiased perspective. Generally speaking, reader heterogeneity is more important for accuracy in media than competition per se. (JEL D23, L82)
Glaeser, Edward L, and Andrei Shleifer. 2005. “The Curley Effect.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 21 (1): 1-19. Abstract
James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. As a consequence, Boston stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of using redistributive politics to shape the electorate, and show that this model yields a number of predictions opposite from the more standard frameworks of political competition, yet consistent with empirical evidence.
Barberis, Nicholas, Andrei Shleifer, and Jeffrey Wurgler. 2005. “Comovement.” Journal of Financial Economics 75 (2): 283-317. Abstract
Building on Vijh (Rev. Financial Stud. 7 (1994)), we use additions to the S&P 500 to distinguish two views of return comovement: the traditional view, which attributes it to comovement in news about fundamental value, and an alternative view, in which frictions or sentiment delink it from fundamentals. After inclusion, a stock’s beta with the S&P goes up. In bivariate regressions which control for the return of non-S&P stocks, the increase in S&P beta is even larger. These results are generally stronger in more recent data. Our findings cannot easily be explained by the fundamentals-based view and provide new evidence in support of the alternative friction- or sentiment-based view.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Botero, Juan, Simeon Djankov, Rafael LaPorta, Florencio López-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer. 2004. “The Regulation of Labor.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 119 (4): 1339-1382. Abstract
We investigate the regulation of labor markets through employment, collective relations, and social security laws in 85 countries. We find that the political power of the left is associated with more stringent labor regulations and more generous social security systems, and that socialist, French, and Scandinavian legal origin countries have sharply higher levels of labor regulation than do common law countries. However, the effects of legal origins are larger, and explain more of the variation in regulations, than those of politics. Heavier regulation of labor is associated with lower labor force participation and higher unemployment, especially of the young. These results are most naturally consistent with legal theories, according to which countries have pervasive regulatory styles inherited from the transplantation of legal systems.