Free Markets Under Siege: Cartels, Politics and Social Welfare

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free markets epstein

Richard A. Epstein

In this paper, Richard Epstein, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, explains how there are substantial economic gains to be made from countries getting ‘easy’ policy decisions correct. Societies collapse and become impoverished when they do not accept the basic principles of freedom to contract and competition. Even in the developed world these principles have not been accepted in key areas such as agricultural and labour markets. Significant welfare gains could be achieved from liberalisation in both areas.

Epstein explains how liberal economists, politicians and civil servants often spend much time discussing ‘difficult’ cases. While these issues may be of some importance to particular groups in society, the implications of getting ‘difficult’ cases wrong are not serious. Thus policymakers and their advisers, says Epstein, would do well to concentrate on the ‘easy’ cases.

In his study, Professor Epstein uses evidence and analysis derived from the disciplines of both law and economics. Professor Geoffrey Wood’s commentary elucidates Epstein’s argument and shows how it can be further applied to policy issues that are relevant in the UK.

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