Integrative Social Contract Theory and Institutional Brokerage Commission Rebates

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-11

“Mutual Funds” in Finance Ethics: Critical Issues in Theory and Practice, John R. Boatright, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Forthcoming

39 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2010  

D. Bruce Johnsen

George Mason University - School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: February 24, 2010

Abstract

This paper provides an Integrative Social Contract Theory analysis of the ethics of institutional brokerage commission rebates - soft dollars and directed brokerage - focused on transaction cost economics. Brokerage commission rebates are a form of vertical arrangement subject to the same economic analysis scholars and courts have used in the Antitrust setting to find that consumers often benefit from vertical arrangements. My analysis shows that institutional brokerage rebates, often condemned as kickbacks, payola, or commercial bribery, likely benefit mutual fund investors once the problem of brokerage quality assurance is recognized. According to Integrative Social Contract Theory they appear to be ethical forms of economic organization.

Keywords: Coase, community norms, competitive federalism, diversified portfolio, Donaldson, Dunfee, economic organizations, evolutionary competitive forces, financial market commentators, Massachusetts Financial Services Company, moral free space, open-end funds, politicians, SEC, securities regulators

JEL Classification: A13, J41, K12, L14

Suggested Citation

Johnsen, D. Bruce, Integrative Social Contract Theory and Institutional Brokerage Commission Rebates (February 24, 2010). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1558526

D. Bruce Johnsen (Contact Author)

George Mason University - School of Law ( email )

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PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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