"Stateless Commerce" Book Panel

How does the 47th Street diamond district in midtown Manhattan continue to thrive as an ethnic trading network? Why hasn't this trading network been displaced by more advanced methods of exchange? On this episode of the Hayek Program Podcast, Barak Richman discusses his new book 'Stateless Commerce: The Diamond Network and the Persistence of Relational Exchange.'

Peter J. Boettke
Peter Leeson
Calendar Date: 
Dec 19, 2017
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The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System

David Skarbek on WTOP Radio (DC)

Calendar Date: 
Feb 18, 2015
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What Can Aid Do?

December 1, 2009

Foreign aid’s advocates claim aid has been successful. Aid’s  critics claim aid has failed. We explain why both camps are correct. Aid can,  and in a few cases has, increased a particular output by devoting more resources  to its production. In this sense, aid has occasionally had limited success.  However, aid can’t, and hasn’t, contributed to the solution of economic problems and  therefore economic growth. In this much more important sense, aid  has failed.

Criminal Constitutions

July 1, 2010

Why do criminals use constitutions? This paper argues  that constitutions perform three functions in criminal organizations. By  performing these functions, constitutions facilitate criminal cooperation and  enhance criminals’ profit. To examine our hypothesis we examine the  constitutions of two criminal organizations: 18th-century Caribbean pirates and  the contemporary Californian prison gang, La Nuestra Familia.

Read the article at Global Crime.

What Aid Can’t Do

April 26, 2011

Leeson and Skarbeck respond to Gustav Ranis' main objections to their article previously published in the Cato Journal. Leeson and Sobel have two replies to Ranis’s remarks.  Leeson and Sobel have two replies to Ranis’s remarks. First, they can say unequivocally that neither of them favors a grants-for-projects approach to foreign aid. Second, they question the ability of a modified MCC to address the plight of poor people in developing countries.

Alertness, Local Knowledge, and Johnny Appleseed

December, 2009

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"Anderson and Hill argue that property rights entrepreneurs, driven by non-replicable Kirznerian alertness, identify unowned and unpriced attributes of a resource and capture rents to those resources by limiting access to them. I argue that alertness is non-replicable, but it is also not random. Kirzner’s analytical framework emphasizes an individual’s local knowledge and subjective interpretative schema. Incorporating these concepts and emphasizing two types of local knowledge, about social and commercial conditions, explains why some people are alert to profit opportunities and others are not. This implies that economic restrictions are more detrimental to entrepreneurship than previously understood. I provide evidence by examining Johnny Appleseed’s successful nursery business."

Citation (Chicago Style): Skarbek, David. "Alertness, Local Knowledge, and Johnny Appleseed." Review of Austrian Economics 22, no. 4 (2009): 415-424.

Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida

November 15, 2008

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Skarbek, David. "Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida." Cato Journal 28, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 73-82.

Federal, state, and county governments accept the argument that occupational licensing protects consumers and improves their welfare. This argument stands in stark contrast to the apparent rent seeking that occurs with licensing. In return for gains from state-created barriers to entry, coalitions built along occupational lines support politicians.

This article will show that government action in times of crisis is often inconsistent with its rhetoric. Licensing is typically justified on the grounds that market mechanisms will not mitigate the problems associated with asymmetric information. In the wake of Hurricanes Frances and Katrina, Florida reduced restrictions on construction contractors, yet in times of crises informational asymmetries are more likely to be problematic. By examining the volume of work completed, I find little evidence of significant detrimental effects from the policy change. Given the relative success of reducing restrictions and the government's explicit recognition of licensing's limiting effect on the availability of roofers, reform of licensing, at least to the extent done in crisis, should be adopted permanently.