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New Perspectives on Regulation Paperback – July 4, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"For the past thirty years we have lost our awareness that fair and efficient regulation is as important to successful capitalism as free markets. 'New Perspectives on Regulation' tells us, practically, how to go forward, as we regain that awareness." -- George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001

"At last, we have a highly readable and engaging volume--admirably brief--on financial and market regulation...The Tobin Project's aptly titled "New Perspectives" uncorks the old wine of regulation to ferment a timely and provocative new vintage, replete with intriguing--even urgent--solutions. Best of all, its expert authors ponder anew the fundamental questions first raised in the 1930s: why do we need regulation of markets, where do we need it, and what do we expect of it." --Roger Lowenstein, Bestselling author of "When Genius Failed" and "Origins of the Crash"

From the Back Cover

New regulation shouldn't rely on old ideas.

Since the 1960s, influential research on government failure helped to drive the movement for deregulation and privatization. Yet even as the study of government failure was flourishing, some very different ideas were sprouting in the social sciences with profound implications for our understanding of human behavior and the role of government. Some of these ideas, particularly from the field of behavioral economics, have begun to nudge their way into discussions of regulatory purpose, design, and implementation. Yet even here, the process is far from complete; and many other exciting new lines of research--on everything from social cooperation to co-regulation--have hardly been incorporated at all. Now that many lawmakers and their constituents have apparently concluded that the earlier focus on government failure went too far, it is imperative that they be able to draw on the very latest academic work in thinking anew about the role of government. This, at root, is the purpose of this book: to make the newest and most important research accessible to a broad audience.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: The Tobin Project (July 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982478801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982478806
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book starts with a simple premise: After decades of deregulation, the financial crisis and resulting economic collapse have prompted people to re-evaluate their attitude toward government regulation. The question should not be whether we need regulation but what form it should take. To help policymakers craft more effective regulation, the book draws on academics from Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Duke University, among others, to present guidelines on designing regulation.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The first, "Regulation and Failure," makes a case for regulation by identifying several reasons free markets can fail to produce socially desirable outcomes and using the financial sector to illustrate those reasons. For example, to show that individual incentives often encourage banks to act in undesirable ways, it says that bank executives' compensation structures reward them handsomly for successful ventures but shield them from failures, which encourages them to make risky moves.

"The Case for Behaviorally Informed Regulation" argues that in contrast to classical economic theory, people rarely make objective decisions. The authors identify several reasons people fail to make sound decisions, such as inadequate information and procrastining on difficult choices. They conclude by using 10 examples from the financial sector to illustrate ways that regulation can promote socially desirable behaviors or discourage undesirable ones. For example, to prevent credit card companies from encouraging users to amass crippling debt, they suggest taking advantage of peoples' preference for default options by requiring credit card companies to enroll users in opt-out automic payment plans that will pay off monthly charges quickly.
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The title of this book is enticing. Unfortunately, one must have a thorough knowledge of mathematics, statistics, and other advanced topics in order to grasp the new "perspectives" presented in this book. Perhaps for the graduate level it is appropriate. Certainly too advanced for undergraduate social science students.
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