nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2006‒02‒12
six papers chosen by
Andy Denis
City University

  3. Misconceptions of Power: From Alchian and Demsetz to Bowles and Gintis By Giulio Palermo
  4. Heuristische Verfahren By Wolfgang Domschke; Armin Scholl
  5. Bankruptcy Law, Creditors’ Rights and Contractual Exchange in Europe, 1808-1914 By Jérôme Sgard
  6. Did Genoa and Venice Kick a Financial Revolution in the Quattrocento? By Michele Fratianni; Franco Spinelli

  1. By: Daniel Castellanos
    Abstract: In this article, we do two things: first, we present an alternative and simplified proof of the known fact that cardinal individual utility functions are necessary, but not sufficient, and that interpersonal comparability is sufficient, but not necessary, for the construction of a social welfare function. This means that Arrow’s impossibility theorem is simply a consequence of forcing the individual utility functions to be ordinal. And second, based on this proof, this article establishes two necessary conditions for the adequate definition of a social choice problem. It is shown that, if these two conditions are satisfied, a number of desirable properties for a social choice are satisfied, including transitivity. This means that Condorcet’s paradox is simply the result of a social choice problem that is not well defined.
    Date: 2005–11–10
  2. By: Daniel Castellanos
    Abstract: Este artículo hace una revisión crítica de los avances que Ken Binmore ha producido sobre la teoría de la justicia de John Rawls. Se argumenta que la teoría de Binmore es una versión mucho más sofisticada, por lo menos desde el punto de vista de un economista, de la teoría de Rawls, pero que todavía contiene algunos aspectos insatisfactorios.
    Date: 2005–11–15
  3. By: Giulio Palermo
    Abstract: Is there any difference between Alchian and Demsetz’s ultra-liberalism and Bowles and Gintis’ radicalism? My answer is that, ontologically and methodologically, there is none. Their common neoclassical methodology results in the same conception of power as incompatible with Walrasian competition and the sole difference between them regards the extension of power and competition in reality. Paradoxically, notwithstanding Bowles and Gintis’ label of radicals, this conception coincides with the liberal view that sees competition as a natural and universal mode of social interaction (JEL L220, D230, B210).
  4. By: Wolfgang Domschke (TU Darmstadt, Faculty of Law and Economics); Armin Scholl (University of Jena, Faculty of Economics)
    Abstract: Heuristische Verfahren dienen zur näherungsweisen Lösung von komplexen Entscheidungs- und Optimierungsproblemen bzw. zugehörigen Optimierungsmodellen. Eröffnungsverfahren konstruieren eine (erste) zulässige Lösung, während Verbesserungsverfahren durch sukzessive Lösungstransformation zu verbesserten (lokal optimalen) Lösungen führen. Metastrategien steuern Verbesserungsverfahren im Hinblick auf die Untersuchung vielversprechender Lösungsbereiche und die Überwindung lokaler Optimalität.
    Keywords: Heuristisches Verfahren, Heuristik, Optimierungsmodell, Metastrategie
    Date: 2006–02–08
  5. By: Jérôme Sgard (CEPII and Université de Paris-Dauphine.)
    Abstract: Recent historical research on bankruptcy has been centred almost exclusively on Common law countries, especially the United States. The consequence is that the research agenda includes issues which may, or may not, have broader relevance. This paper is an attempt at including within a larger historical and comparative perspective the evolution observed in continental Europe, during the 19th century. A data set has thus been assembled which includes the main features of a total of 51 codes or statutes, in 15 countries of all legal traditions. An early conclusion is that all these laws defended strongly creditors’ rights during bankruptcy, during the whole period under review. This goes against the thesis defended i.a. by La Porta et alii (1998) which state that “legal origins” have a strong, differentiated effect on property and creditors’ rights, which would be permanent over history. Two dimensions are then analysed. First, the status of the failed debtor, and whether he was subjected to repression; second, the degree to which the law supported or not the attempts of the parties to negotiate a composition, or continuation arrangement. An early period witnessed repressive, highly regulated frameworks: the paradigm is the Napoleonic, 1808 Code de commerce, though its main features were still highly visible half a century latter, in almost all countries. Then emerged a liberal model, between 1865 and 1885 with again a fair degree of convergence: the personal and civic fate of the debtor became much more immune to commercial failure; and the parties get more autonomy to bargain, though a bifurcation emerged between a “menu approach” to re-negotiation in England and in the French law countries, and a “single-option” procedure in German law countries. Beyond, it is proposed that these broad trends reflect the growing capacity of the institutional environment to reduce risks of moral hazards, and more generally transaction costs. By the end of the century, bargaining on bankruptcy had become easier and safer, so that judicial guarantees could be eased.
    Date: 2006–05–01
  6. By: Michele Fratianni (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy); Franco Spinelli (Università degli Studi di Brescia, Dipartimento di economia.)
    Abstract: Did the city-states of Genoa and Venice kick a financial revolution all the way back in the Quattrocento, much sooner than the financial revolutions of the Netherlands, England and America? To answer this question we analyze the classic revolutions in terms of three key criteria: credibility of debtor’s promises, the role of national banks in facilitating the development of financial markets, and the extent and depth of financial and monetary innovations. We then compare the record of Genoa and Venice with the benchmark from the three classic financial revolutions. The upshot is that the two maritime city-states had developed many of the features that were to be found later on in the Netherlands, England and the United States. The importance of Genoa and Venice as financial innovators has been eclipsed by the fact that these two city-states did not survive politically. Instead, the innovations were absorbed in the long chain of financial evolution and, in the process, lost the identity of their creators.
    Date: 2006–01–18

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