How Should We Model Property? Thinking with My Critics
Journal of Institutional Economics, 2017, 13(4), 815-27
22 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017 Last revised: 22 Jul 2018
Date Written: May 26, 2017
Inspired by comments made by Allen (2017), Lueck (2017), Ménard (2017) and Smith (2017), this response clarifies and deepens the analysis in Arruñada (2017a). Its main argument is that to deal with the complexity of property we must abstract secondary elements, such as the physical dimensions of some types of assets, and focus on the interaction between transactions. This sequential-exchange framework captures the main problem of property in the current environment of impersonal markets. It also provides criteria to compare private and public ordering, as well as to organize public solutions that enable new forms of private ordering. The analysis applies the lessons in Coase (1960) to property by not only comparing realities but also maintaining his separate treatment of the definition of property rights and transaction costs. However, it replaces his contractual, single-exchange, framework for one in which contracts interact, causing exchange externalities.
Keywords: property rights, externalities, enforcement, transaction costs, public ordering, private ordering, impersonal exchange
JEL Classification: D23, K11, K12, G38, H41, O17, P48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation