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Full-Text Articles in Economic History

Whatever Did Happen To The Antitrust Movement?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2018

Whatever Did Happen To The Antitrust Movement?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust in the United States today is caught between its pursuit of technical rules designed to define and implement defensible economic goals, and increasing calls for a new antitrust “movement.” The goals of this movement have been variously defined as combating industrial concentration, limiting the economic or political power of large firms, correcting the maldistribution of wealth, control of high profits, increasing wages, or protection of small business. High output and low consumer prices are typically unmentioned.

In the 1960s the great policy historian Richard Hofstadter lamented the passing of the antitrust “movement” as one of the “faded passions of ...


Regulation And The Marginalist Revolution, Herbert J. Hovenkamp May 2018

Regulation And The Marginalist Revolution, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The marginalist revolution in economics became the foundation for the modern regulatory State with its “mixed” economy. Marginalism, whose development defines the boundary between classical political economy and neoclassical economics, completely overturned economists’ theory of value. It developed in the late nineteenth century in England, the Continent and the United States. For the classical political economists, value was a function of past averages. One good example is the wage-fund theory, which saw the optimal rate of wages as a function of the firm’s ability to save from previous profits. Another is the theory of corporate finance, which assessed a ...


Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Several American political candidates and administrations have both run and served under the “progressive” banner for more than a century, right through the 2016 election season. For the most part these have pursued interventionist antitrust policies, reflecting a belief that markets are fragile and in need of repair, that certain interest groups require greater protection, or in some cases that antitrust policy is an extended arm of regulation. This paper argues that most of this progressive antitrust policy was misconceived, including that reflected in the 2016 antitrust plank of the Democratic Party. The progressive state is best served by a ...


The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust’s rule of reason was born out of a thirty-year (1897-1927) division among Supreme Court Justices about the proper way to assess multi-firm restraints on competition. By the late 1920s the basic contours of the rule for restraints among competitors was roughly established. Antitrust policy toward vertical restraints remained much more unstable, however, largely because their effects were so poorly understood.

This article provides a litigation field guide for antitrust claims under the rule of reason – or more precisely, for situations when application of the rule of reason is likely. At the time pleadings are drafted and even up ...


The Progressives: Racism And Public Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2017

The Progressives: Racism And Public Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

American Progressivism inaugurated the beginning of the end of American scientific racism. Its critics have been vocal, however. Progressives have been charged with promotion of eugenics, and thus with mainstreaming practices such as compulsory housing segregation, sterilization of those deemed unfit, and exclusion of immigrants on racial grounds. But if the Progressives were such racists, why is it that since the 1930s Afro-Americans and other people of color have consistently supported self-proclaimed progressive political candidates, and typically by very wide margins?

When examining the Progressives on race, it is critical to distinguish the views that they inherited from those that ...


Appraising The Progressive State, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Appraising The Progressive State, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Since it origins in the late nineteenth century, the most salient characteristics of the progressive state have been marginalism in economics, greatly increased use of scientific theory and data in policy making, a commitment to broad participation in both economic and political markets, and a belief that resources are best moved through society by many institutions in addition to traditional markets.. These values have served to make progressive policy less stable than classical and other more laissez faire alternatives. However, the progressive state has also performed better than alternatives by every economic measure. One of the progressive state’s biggest ...


Defending A Mixed Economy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp May 2016

Defending A Mixed Economy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay reviews Jacob S. Hacker's and Paul Pierson's very engaging book, American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget what Made America Prosper (2016).


Re-Imagining Antitrust: The Revisionist Work Of Richard S. Markovits, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2016

Re-Imagining Antitrust: The Revisionist Work Of Richard S. Markovits, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This review discusses Richard Markovits’ two volume book "Economics and the Interpretation" and "Application of U.S. and E.U. Antitrust Law" (2014), focusing mainly on Markovits’ approaches to antitrust tests of illegality, pricing offenses, market definition and the assessment of market power, and his important work anticipating unilateral effects theory in merger cases. Markovits argues forcefully that the Sherman and Clayton Acts were intended to employ different tests of illegality. As a result, even when they cover the same practices, such as mergers, exclusive dealing, or tying, they address them under different tests. He then shows how he would ...


The Emergence Of Classical American Patent Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2016

The Emergence Of Classical American Patent Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

One enduring historical debate concerns whether the American Constitution was intended to be "classical" -- referring to a theory of statecraft that maximizes the role of private markets and minimizes the role of government in economic affairs. The most central and powerful proposition of classical constitutionalism is that the government's role in economic development should be minimal. First, private rights in property and contract exist prior to any community needs for development. Second, if a particular project is worthwhile the market itself will make it occur. Third, when the government attempts to induce development politics inevitably distorts the decision making ...


The Progressives: Economics, Science, And Race, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2015

The Progressives: Economics, Science, And Race, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay is a brief review of Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton Univ. Press 2016).


Interest Groups In The Teaching Of Legal History, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2014

Interest Groups In The Teaching Of Legal History, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

One reason legal history is more interesting than it was several decades ago is the increased role of interest groups in our accounts of legal change. Diverse movements including law and society, critical legal theory, comparative law, and public choice theory have promoted this development, even among writers who are not predominantly historians. Nonetheless, in my own survey course in American legal history I often push back. Taken too far, interest group theorizing becomes an easy shortcut for assessing legal movements and developments without fully understanding the ideas behind them.

Intellectual history in the United States went into decline because ...


Coase, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2013

Coase, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay considers the career, contributions, and influence of Ronald Coase, who passed away in September, 2013. Comments are welcome.


The Wires Go To War: The U.S. Experiment With Government Ownership Of The Telephone System During World War I, Michael A. Janson, Christopher S. Yoo Apr 2013

The Wires Go To War: The U.S. Experiment With Government Ownership Of The Telephone System During World War I, Michael A. Janson, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the U.S. telephone system is that it has always been privately owned, in stark contrast to the pattern of government ownership followed by virtually every other nation. What is not widely known is how close the United States came to falling in line with the rest of the world. For the one-year period following July 31, 1918, the exigencies of World War I led the federal government to take over the U.S. telephone system. A close examination of this episode sheds new light into a number of current policy issues. The ...


The Striking Success Of The National Labor Relations Act, Michael L. Wachter Dec 2012

The Striking Success Of The National Labor Relations Act, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Although often viewed as a dismal failure, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has been remarkably successful. While the decline in private sector unionization since the 1950s is typically viewed as a symbol of this failure, the NLRA has achieved its most important goal: industrial peace.

Before the NLRA and the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendments, our industrial relations system gave rise to frequent and violent strikes that threatened the nation’s stability. For example, in the late 1870s, the Great Railroad Strike spread throughout a number of major cities. In Pittsburg alone, strikes claimed 24 lives, nearly 80 buildings, and over ...


The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2011

The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fundamental changes in economic thought revolutionized the theory of corporate finance, leading to changes in its legal regulation. The changes were massive, and this branch of financial analysis and law became virtually unrecognizable to those who had practiced it earlier. The source of this revision was the marginalist, or neoclassical, revolution in economic thought. The classical theory had seen corporate finance as an historical, relatively self-executing inquiry based on the classical theory of value and administered by common law courts. By contrast, neoclassical value theory was forward looking and as a result ...


Coase, Institutionalism, And The Origins Of Law And Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2011

Coase, Institutionalism, And The Origins Of Law And Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Ronald Coase merged two traditions in economics, marginalism and institutionalism. Neoclassical economics in the 1930s was characterized by an abstract conception of marginalism and frictionless resource movement. Marginal analysis did not seek to uncover the source of individual human preference or value, but accepted preference as given. It treated the business firm in the same way, focusing on how firms make market choices, but saying little about their internal workings.

“Institutionalism” historically refers to a group of economists who wrote mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. Their place in economic theory is outside the mainstream, but they have found new ...


Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2010

Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Neoclassicism And The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2009

Neoclassicism And The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

"Separation of ownership and control" is a phrase whose history will forever be associated with Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means' The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932), as well as with Institutionalist economics, Legal Realism, and the New Deal. Within that milieu the large publicly held business corporation became identified with excessive managerial power at the expense of stockholders, social irresponsibility, and internal inefficiency. Neoclassical economists both then and ever since have generally been critical, both of the historical facts that Berle and Means purported to describe and of the conclusions that they drew. In fact, however, within ...


The Coase Theorem And Arthur Cecil Pigou, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2008

The Coase Theorem And Arthur Cecil Pigou, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In "The Problem of Social Cost" Ronald Coase was highly critical of the work of Cambridge University Economics Professor Arthur Cecil Pigou, presenting him as a radical government interventionist. In later work Coase's critique of Pigou became even more strident. In fact, however, Pigou's Economics of Welfare created the basic model and many of the tools that Coase's later work employed. Much of what we today characterize as the "Coase Theorem," including the relevance of transaction costs, externalities, and bilateral monopoly, was either stated or anticipated in Pigou's work. Further, Coase's extreme faith in private ...


The Ancient Roots Of Modern Financial Innovation: The Early History Of Regulatory Arbitrage, Michael S. Knoll Jan 2008

The Ancient Roots Of Modern Financial Innovation: The Early History Of Regulatory Arbitrage, Michael S. Knoll

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Recent years have seen an explosion of financial innovation. Much of this innovation seeks to exploit inconsistencies in the regulatory environment, and one of the most popular techniques for doing so uses put-call parity. Nonetheless, regulatory arbitrage using put-call parity is not a new phenomenon, as is frequently suggested. This Essay traces the use of put-call parity to avoid the usury prohibition back to Ancient Israel. It also describes the important role that put-call parity played in developing the equity of redemption, the defining characteristic of a modern mortgage, in Medieval England. In addition, this Essay describes how Muslims living ...


"Free" Religion And "Captive" Schools: Protestants, Catholics, And Education, 1945-1965, Sarah Barringer Gordon Jan 2007

"Free" Religion And "Captive" Schools: Protestants, Catholics, And Education, 1945-1965, Sarah Barringer Gordon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Pari Passu And A Distressed Sovereign's Rational Choices, William W. Bratton Jan 2004

Pari Passu And A Distressed Sovereign's Rational Choices, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Getting Off The Dole: Why The Court Should Abandon Its Spending Doctrine And How A Too-Clever Congress Could Provoke It To Do So, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2003

Getting Off The Dole: Why The Court Should Abandon Its Spending Doctrine And How A Too-Clever Congress Could Provoke It To Do So, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Knowledge About Welfare: Legal Realism And The Separation Of Law And Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2000

Knowledge About Welfare: Legal Realism And The Separation Of Law And Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The welfare state could not function without judgments about how well off its citizens are. For example, governments devise progressive income taxes, which are designed to capture more wealth from the well off and less from the impecunious. These policies presume an ability to take a manageable amount of information about an individual's income or assets and make judgments about her welfare. In fact, people do this all the time, mostly without thinking about the methodological problems involved.

The superficial casualness of our daily observations about welfare belies the state of the economic science of welfare measurement. Economists have ...


The Genius Of The 1898 Bankruptcy Act, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 1999

The Genius Of The 1898 Bankruptcy Act, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The First Great Law & Economics Movement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 1990

The First Great Law & Economics Movement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Beginning in the 1880s American economists turned their attention to the law in a way unprecedented in American thought. Some legal academics in turn incorporated economics into their thinking about the law. Whether their output or its impact were great enough to warrant calling their efforts a law and economics "movement" is worth debating. This essay argues that there was such a movement.

Four things account for the increasing interest in law and economics at the turn of the century: (1) the widespread application of evolutionary models to the development of both law and economic theory; (2) the influence of ...


Corporate Debt Relationships: Legal Theory In A Time Of Restructuring, William W. Bratton Jan 1989

Corporate Debt Relationships: Legal Theory In A Time Of Restructuring, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The Classical Corporation In American Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 1988

The Classical Corporation In American Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Classical political economy was dedicated to the principle that the state could best encourage economic development by leaving entrepreneurs alone, free of regulation and subsidy. The development of classical economic policy in the United States dramatically changed the concept of the business corporation. Within the preclassical, mercantilist model, the corporation was a unique entity created by the state for a special purpose and enjoyed a privileged relationship with the sovereign. The very act of incorporation presumed state involvement. State subsidy and the incorporators' public obligation were natural corollaries. Business firms that relied on the market alone to determine their prospects ...


An Historical And Critical Analysis Of Interpleader, Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr., Myron Moskovitz Jan 1964

An Historical And Critical Analysis Of Interpleader, Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr., Myron Moskovitz

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.