Property Is Only Another Name for Monopoly

110 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2016 Last revised: 5 Feb 2017

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

E. Glen Weyl

Microsoft Research; Yale University

Date Written: January 31, 2017


The existing system of private property interferes with allocative efficiency by giving owners the power to hold out for excessive prices. We propose a remedy in the form of a tax on property, based on the value self-assessed by its owner at intervals, along with a requirement that the owner sell the property to any third party willing to pay a price equal to the self-assessed value. The tax rate would reflect a tradeoff between gains from allocative efficiency and losses to investment efficiency, likely in the range of 5-10% annually for most assets. We discuss the detailed design of this system from an economic and legal perspective.

Keywords: Property, Common Ownership, Investment Incentives, Allocative Efficiency, Spectrum, Domain Names

JEL Classification: B51, C78, D42, D61, D82, K11

Suggested Citation

Posner, Eric A. and Weyl, E. Glen, Property Is Only Another Name for Monopoly (January 31, 2017). Journal of Legal Analysis, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)


Eric Glen Weyl (Contact Author)

Microsoft Research ( email )

One Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
(857) 998-4513 (Phone)


Yale University ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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