An Economics Reading List

Law, Property Rights, and Institutions

Alston, Lee and Joseph Ferrie, Southern Paternalism and the American Welfare State: Economics, Politics, and Institutions in the South, 1865-1965

Altson, Lee, Thrainn Eggertsson and Douglass North, (eds.), Empirical Studies In Institutional Change

Anderson, Terry, (ed.), Property Rights and Indian Economies

Armentano, Dominick, Anti-Trust and Monopoly

Barro, Robert, Getting it Right: Markets and Choices in a Free Society

Barry, Norman, “The Tradition of Spontaneous Order” (Literature of Liberty, 1982)

    • This bibliographical essay traces the intellectual history of spontaneous order in both economics and the law. Barry’s essay is a thorough and informative survey of this central topic. An extensive bibliography is included:

Bibliography.Barry also makes an elegant and subtle distinction: The evolution of laws, commonly cited as analogous to that of markets, differs from that of markets precisely because laws lack the equivalent of a price system to convey information and feedback to the widespread participants. Hence a common-law legal system may be less likely to iterate in on an equilibrium than a freely-developing market system. Difficulty Level 2: Graduate School

See also: “Readers’ Forum: Comments on ‘The Tradition of Spontaneous Order’ by Norman Barry”.

Barzel, Yoram, The Economic Analysis of Property Rights

Bastiat, Frederic, The Law, Dean Russell, trans.

    • Also:

The Law,

    • Seymour Cain, trans. See also the

Brief Review

    of Bastiat’s works.

Bentham, Jeremy, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Coase, Ronald, The Firm, the Market and the Law

Eggertsson, Thrain, Economic Behavior and Institutions

Epstein, Richard, Simple Rules for a Complex World

Goldberg, Victor, Readings in the Economics of Contract Law

Hirschmann, Albert, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States

Kantor, Shawn, Politics and Property Rights

Klein, Daniel, Binyam Reja, Adrian Moore, Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit

Knight, Frank, Risk, Uncertainty, and Profits.

    • Includes material on the institutional structure of firms and the distribution of residuals, particularly in Part III,

Chapter IX-X.

    • See also the

Brief Review.Libecap, Gary, Contracting for Property Rights

Masten, Scott and Oliver Williamson, (eds.), The Economics of Transaction Costs

Masten, Scott, (ed.), Case Studies in Contracting and Organization

Miller, Gary, Managerial Dilemmas: The Political Economy of Hierarchy

North, Douglass, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

Olson, Mancur, The Logic of Collective Action

Posner, Richard, The Economic Analysis of Law

Sowell, Thomas, Knowledge and Decisions

Stigler, George, The Essence of Stigler

Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de, A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, To Which Are Annexed, Observations on the Thirty-First Book, by the late M. Condorcet: and Two Letters of Helvetius, On the Merits of the Same Work. 1811. Thomas Jefferson, tr.

    • Startlingly timely in a world where Afghanistan suddenly has an opportunity to reorganize and write a constitution afresh, Tracy’s book contrasts theory and evidence resulting from various kinds of government organizations (from monarchical to representative), with an emphasis on the effects on liberty and economic advancement. He brings logic, creativity, and a modern scientific approach to the previously murky field. He systematically works through many substantial flaws in Montesquieu’s influential 1752 work, and delves into Montesquieu’s logical gaps. The book hits its stride with Tracy’s chapters on Montesquieu’s

Book XI

    • (on “Laws Which Establish Public Liberty, In Relation to the Constitution”), and thereafter brings fresh political and economic insights that can reward students, teachers, and the curious at all levels.

David Hart’s Annotated Bibliography illuminates Tracy’s life and thought, including his public opposition both to the Napoleonic government and to the subsequent system of constitutional monarchy. He details Tracy’s career in academia and politics, from Tracy’s initial renouncing of his title, to his stint in prison, to his educational reforms, to his influence on the way worldwide constitutions and governments were and continue to be arranged. Hart describes how Tracy’s own term “ideology” was turned against him by Napoleon and Marx, and places in context Tracy’s other remarkable works.

Tracy’s values of human equality and intellectual pursuit show through in every chapter of his work. His explanations are clever and clear, and include material on the benefits of specialization of labor, free trade, and even include an explanation of Ricardian equivalence (before Ricardo). Tracy’s enthusiasm, creativity, and intellectual honesty are inspiring and thought-provoking throughout this fine work. Difficulty Level 2: Graduate School

Williamson, Oliver, The Economic Institutions of Capitalism

Williamson, Oliver, Markets and Hierarchies