1999

 

Biblioteca della libertà, XXXIV (1999), January-February, n. 148
pp. 128, Lit. 20,000

 

ù Posner, Richard A. and Parisi, Francesco. Economic Analysis of Private and Commercial Law: A Survey • pp. 3-32

This essay is the second in a series of three in which Richard Posner and Francesco Parisi trace the forty-year history of the economic analysis of law. The first (published in no. 147) reconstructed the origins of the economic analysis of law. The third (in the next issue) will be dedicated to the economic analysis of public and criminal law. This second study examines all the various aspects of the literature on the economic analysis of private and commercial law, starting from Ronald Coase’s seminal studies on the theory of property rights which underpins the discipline. In the course of time, the economic analysis of law has been applied to a series of different research fields: contractual law, civil responsibility, family law, commercial and corporate law. The authors mention and discuss the most significant contributions in each of these fields.

ù Ferrarese, Maria Rosaria. Globalisation, Law à la Carte and "Cold" Political Orders
• pp. 33-50

This article analyses the main effects that globalisation produces in the institutional area. It focuses on two types of change: a) the change in the relationship between politics and economics, a crucial step in the road towards globalisation; b) changes in progress in the institutional scenario which, in turn, affect the government sphere and the legal system. Especially if we refer to the traditional characteristics of European states and the idea of law that went with them, we can see revolutionary changes taking place: law is served à la carte, while states are becoming increasingly "cold" and rational and speak the language of economics.

ù Lombardi Vallauri, Luigi. A Juridical Dissection of Hell • pp. 51-68

The hell referred to in this essay is largely a Catholic one, the only hell – final reconciliation (apocatastasis) apart – formally defined as eternal. It clashes with the universally accepted principles of justice and law and is a failure from the pedagogic, ethical, communicative-interpersonal and eudemonistic points of view. This implies that the thesis of the authoritativeness of papal utterances on the faith is unacceptable and drastically re-evaluates Jesus’s teachings as reported in the Gospels. The solutions triggered by the hermeneutic virtuosity of theologists are devoid of intellectual probity. The author also criticises the existentialist theory which explains the eternity of hell as an irrevocable decision taken by the soul in God’s presence. The essay presents a conception of hell which is less scandalous than the Catholic one, but which fails to solve all the problems relating to divine justice. It ends by asking the reader to recover a feeling of reality "whereby a forest is realer than a baptism, and immaterial people and their activities are unlikely objects of thought".

ù Fornero, Elsa. Italy / Opting Out: A Choise of Freedom for Future Pensioners • pp. 69-79

In the debate on the reform of the social security system, it is possible to identify three areas of widespread consensus: 1) the long-term financial untenableness of the present public pay-as-you-go system; 2) the need to eliminate the distortions and disincentives which it induces; 3) the superiority of a system based on three pillars (public pay-as-you-go, category pension funds, individual accounts). There is, however, a great deal of disagreement over the corrections that need to be made. The author discusses the various proposals that have been put forward and assesses them critically. She suggests that an immediate and total privatisation of social security in Italy would be impracticable and argues that a quota of public social security benefits ought to be used with a redistributive function. The solution she proposes is the gradual introduction of "opting out" mechanisms, which would ensure more freedom for individuals and greater efficiency for the system.

ù Lepage, Henry / Bertone, Ugo. Electricity, from Monopoly to Competition • pp. 81-113

The national electricity markets of the Member States of the European Union are currently being privatised in compliance with a specific Commission directive. The process is encountering much resistance and has reached different stages of development in the various countries concerned. It is, however, virtually unstoppable and will, predictably, lead to a progressive broadening of scope for competition and the market, much as in the United States in recent years. In his essay (The mechanisms of the market today), Henri Lepage describes the mechanisms and institutions through which it is currently possible to create a competitive market in the electricity sector, safeguarding the principle of economic efficiency and ensuring that the energy consumed has been produced at the lowest cost possible. To do this it is crucial to define and publicise a spot price for electricity in the various time bands by introducing auctions mechanisms among producers. The essay also shows how such competitive procedures may lead to a decline in the price of electricity. In the next essay (The mechanisms of the market: what they will be like in 2015), the same author describes the probable future evolution of the European market on the basis of what is already happening in the United States. The deregulated market will be characterised by an extreme segmentation of prices and tariffs and by the emergence of intermediaries specialised in selling the good. Finally, it is highly likely that electricity will be "commoditised", that is to say transformed into a basic raw material, negotiable on markets in cash or on credit or in derivatives, just like any other. In his essay (Uncertain Italian liberalisation), Ugo Bertone, finally, examines the decree for the deregulation of the electricity market passed last February by the Italian government. Many reservations can be advanced about the provision, especially the fact that enel, former public monopoly, still enjoys a dominant role in the production and distribution of electricity. The process the decree has triggered will nonetheless lead to an effective liberalisation of the market over the next few years. In this respect, the moment of truth will come when enel is quoted on the stock market.

 

Biblioteca della libertà, XXXIV (1999), March-April, n. 149
pp. 112, Lit. 20,000

 

ù Buchanan, James M. Has Economics Lost Its Way? • pp. 3-13

In this article, the author seeks to pinpoint the reasons why modern economics has lost its way and the remedies that can be applied. The first section outlines the rudiments of the explanatory vision that has informed economics since the time of Adam Smith. The second section identifies the sources of the "wrong turnings" of neoclassical economics itself. The third section briefly outlines the side-tracking of economics during the Keynesian era. The fourth section examines both the causes and consequences of the "scientification" of economics over the last half century. Section five, finally, offers suggestions on how economics might be restored – at least partly – to the position it attained in the era of classical political economy two centuries ago. The author concludes by outlining the tremendous productivity of economics in forestalling the destruction of potential value in the "black holes" of politicised constraints on voluntary exchange.

ù Priest, George L. The Government versus the Market in Protecting against Economic Misfortune • pp. 15-35

Arguably the most important reason which prompts many to reject the market in favour of the government as the most fundamental institution of social order is the convinction that the marketplace alone can never deal adequately with the inevitable consequences of misfortune. Few deny in fact that government has an important role in implementing the philanthropic elements of social policy: it is seen as an insurer. This essay seeks to take this insurance conception seriously and attempts to highlight the merits of the market and the government in the provision of insurance against economic misfortune. The first part explains how the private insurance market works. The second part compares public and private insurance both theoretically and through a review of government provided or regulated insurance programmes in a variety of contexts. Finally, the third part describes the normative significance of the differences highlighted.

ù Posner, Richard A. and Parisi, Francesco. Economic Analysis of Public and Criminal Law:
A Survey • pp. 37-55

This essay is the last in a series of three in which Richard Posner and Francesco Parisi trace the forty-year history of the economic analysis of law. The first, published in issue no. 147, reconstructed the origins of the economic analysis of law. The second (no. 148) was dedicated to the economic analysis of the various aspects of private and commercial law. In this study, the authors mention and discuss the most significant contributions to the analysis of public and criminal law (the question of optimal criminal sanctions, deterrence and criminal law enforcement), constitutional and public law (free speech and the market for ideas, labour law, union law).

ù Russo, Giuseppe. Italy / The Uncertain Future of Savings in the Northern Regions • pp. 57-69

This article is one of the contributions to the research project entitled The economic prospects of northern Italy in the year 2000 promoted by the Centro Einaudi and CESDI with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo. It is devoted specifically to the accumulation and use of savings. It analyses business and family saving trends, as well as savings from fiscal residues. The author concludes that as long as we speak of the present magnitude of the financial resources endogenous to the northern regions, the picture is an extremely comforting one. Outlining future scenarios is a much more problematic business, partly as a consequence of the birth of the euro. Foreign investment by firms will continue to be the natural outcome of internationalisation strategies and family savings – albeit falling – may be used throughout the euro area. Financial resources will be deployed increasingly across the market. Central to the maintenance or growth of the portion of such resources used in northern regions will be the effective capacity to compete of regional economic agents, as well as political decision markers’ commitment to support their competitiveness.

ù Davico, Luca. Italy / Integration through Labour • pp. 71-84

In Piedmont, as nearly everywhere else in Italy, the number of non-EC immigrants integrated in the local social fabric and economy is growing fast. An empirical survey on a sample of 262 Piedmontese industrial firms reveals how one firm in three employs non-EC immigrants, whereas six out of ten believe it is possible to open more space for the employment of non-EC immigrants. Besides the outright increase, a growing turnover is also being recorded. As a result, the level of academic qualifications and the vocational content of the jobs non-EC employees perform have clearly improved. It is increasingly evident that cultural integration is taking place through labour. Immigrant workers increasingly resemble local workers (in terms of trade union membership, for example), whereas intercultural clashes are practically non-existent. Last but not least, firms are increasingly demanding greater investment in the technical and vocational training of foreign labour.

ù Agnelli, Giovanni and Einaudi, Luigi. The Crisis and Working Hours • pp. 85-100

In 1932 Giovanni Agnelli, chairman of Fiat, released an interview to United Press about the reduction in working hours and how it could help solve the economic crisis. The interview triggered discussion internationally, and also sparked a friendly exchange of ideas between Agnelli and Luigi Einaudi, editor of La Riforma Sociale. The two also briefly exchanged correspondence which Einaudi’s review decided to publish. Agnelli confirmed his belief that it was necessary to counter technical unemployment by reducing working hours. Einaudi denied that the technical cause of the economic crisis was the most important. Albeit agreeing that the reduction in working hours was the ultimate target, he suggested it would be unstable if applied on a generalised and compulsory basis. Here Biblioteca della Libertà offers its readers the chance to follow an old debate on a question that is still open.