As recently as 1990 policymakers and academics believed widely that all that was needed for dramatic increases in prosperity in transitional economies was to roll back the state. The arguments in this book present an articulate antidote to that assertion: While the state must withdraw from many activities involving direct production and exchange, it must provide good laws and enforce them for economies to prosper. In one chapter, Robert Summers brilliantly exposes the complexity of this requirement, listing eighteen minimum conditions for the creation of the rule of law. Other chapters describe the benefits of good commercial law on economic growth, the political foundations of American commercial law, how poor governance led to the Asian financial crisis, the institutional requirements for environmental markets, and constitutional structures that lead to efficient government.
The contributors, renowned experts in their fields on the complex institutional requirements for prosperity, offer arguments from economic theory, economic history, legal theory, and political science. The chapters are simultaneously of high scholarly quality and intensely applicable. Indeed many of the ideas here are being used to design reform projects in developing countries.
Market-Augmenting Government will appeal to legal theorists, economists, and political scientists, and in particular to institutional economists. Its writing is friendly to the general reader, with only a few of the chapters requiring specialized knowledge. The book will also figure importantly in policy circles as governance moves center stage in the practice of reform and development.
Omar Azfar is Research Associate, IRIS Center, University of Maryland, College Park. Charles A. Cadwell is Director and Principle Investigator, IRIS Center, University of Maryland, College Park.