In cooperation with Lex Mundi member law firms in 109 countries, we measure and describe the exact procedures used by litigants and courts to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent and to collect a bounced check. We use these data to construct an index of procedural formalism of dispute resolution for each country. We find that such formalism is systematically greater in civil than in common law countries, and is associated with higher expected duration of judicial proceedings, less consistency, less honesty, less fairness in judicial decisions, and more corruption. These results suggest that legal transplantation may have led to an inefficiently high level of procedural formalism, particularly in developing countries.
We examine the patterns of media ownership in 97 countries around the world. We find that almost universally the largest media firms are owned by the government or by private families. Government ownership is more pervasive in broadcasting than in the printed media. We then examine two theories of government ownership of the media: the public interest (Pigouvian) theory, according to which government ownership cures market failures, and the public choice theory, according to which government ownership undermines political and economic freedom. The data support the second theory.
We present a model of succession in a ¢rm owned and managed by its founder. The founder decides between hiring a professional manager or leaving management to his heir, as well as on what fraction of the company to £oat on the stock exchange. We assume that a professional is a better manager than the heir, and describe how the founder’s decision is shaped by the legal environment. This theory of separation of ownership from management includes the Anglo-Saxon and the Continental European patterns of corporate governance as special cases, and generates additional empirical predictions consistent with cross-country evidence.
In many countries, the operation of legal, political and regulatory institutions is subverted by the wealthy and the politically powerful for their own benefit. This subversion takes the form of corruption, intimidation, and other forms of influence. We present a model of such institutional subversion—focusing specifically on courts—and of the effects of inequality in economic and political resources on the magnitude of subversion. We then use the model to analyze the consequences of institutional subversion for the law and order environment in the country, as well as for capital accumulation and growth. We illustrate the model with historical evidence from Gilded Age United States and the transition economies of the 1990s. We also present some cross-country evidence consistent with the basic prediction of the model.
We study asset prices in an economy where some investors categorize risky assets into different styles and move funds among these styles depending on their relative performance. In our economy, assets in the same style comove too much, assets in different styles comove too little,and reclassifying an asset into a new style raises its correlation with that style. We also predict that style returns exhibit a rich pattern of own- and cross-autocorrelations and that while asset-level momentum and value strategies are profitable, their style-level counterparts are even more so. We use the model to shed light on several style-related empirical anomalies. Copyright 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
A central requirement in the design of a legal system is the protection of law enforcers from coercion by litigants through either violence or bribes. The higher the risk of coercion, the greater the need for protection and control of law enforcers by the state. Such control, however, also makes law enforcers beholden to the state, and politicizes justice. This perspective explains why, starting in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the relativelymore peaceful England developed trials by independent juries, while the less peaceful France relied on state-employed judges to resolve disputes. It may also explain many differences between common and civil law traditions with respect to both the structure of legal systems and the observed social and economic outcomes.
We present a simple model of an entrepreneur going public in an environment with poor legal protection of outside shareholders. The model incorporates elements of Becker’s (J. Political Econ. 106 (1968) 172) ‘‘crime and punishment’’ framework into a corporate finance environment of Jensen and Meckling (J. Financial Econ. 3 (1976) 305). We examine the entrepreneur’s decision and the market equilibrium. The model is consistent with a number of empirical regularities concerning the relation between investor protection and corporate finance. It also sheds light on the patterns of capital flows between rich and poor countries and on the politics of reform of investor protection.
A well functioning securities market relies on the availability of accurate information, a broad base of investors who can process this information, legal protection of these investors’ rights, and a liquid secondary market unencumbered by excessive transaction costs or constraints. When these conditions are satisfied, securities markets are likely to be broader and more efficient, with felicitous consequences for investment and resource allocation. This paper explores the effect of technological advances on these features of the market, emphasizing the incentives facing the producers of financial information.
We present a model of the effects of legal protection of minority shareholders and of cash-flow ownership by a controlling shareholder on the valuation of firms. We then test this model using a sample of 539 large firms from 27 wealthy economies. Consistent with the model, we find evidence of higher valuation of firms in countries with better protection of minority shareholders and in firms with higher cash-flow ownership by the controlling shareholder.
We present new data on the regulation of entry of start-up firms in 85 countries. The data cover the number of procedures, official time, and official cost that a start-up must bear before it can operate legally. The official costs of entry are extremely high in most countries. Countries with heavier regulation of entry have higher corruption and larger unofficial economies, but not better quality of public or private goods. Countries with more democratic and limited governments have lighter regulation of entry. The evidence is inconsistent with public interest theories of regulation, but supports the public choice view that entry regulation benefits politicians and bureaucrats.