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Free Markets Under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare

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Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher(s): Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Author(s): Geoffrey Owen; Richard A. Epstein; Geoffrey Wood

Topic: Economics (Economic relations)
Trade (Free trade and protection)

Keywords: Trade barriers; Private property; Free markets; Special interest groups

Type: Book

Abstract:

In this Hoover Classics reissue, Richard Epstein draws on his extensive knowledge of history, law, and economics to examine how best to regulate the interface between market choice and government intervention. With clarity, force, and wit, Epstein provides an illuminating analysis of some of the ways that special interest groups, with the help of sympathetic politicians, have been able to manipulate free markets in their favor.

The author focuses on two areas where government intervention has been persistent in both the United State and Western Europe-- agriculture and the labor market--and tries of find a middle path between socialism and libertarianism. He reveals how the truly great social catastrophes come from a wholesale disrespect for individual liberty and a total contempt for private property--and why there should never be compensation for losses incurred through the operation of competitive markets. He shows how free international trade can mitigate--and perhaps eliminate altogether--the harmful effects of protecting various groups through domestic policies. And he explains why even unilateral reform of trade barriers would reap great benefits.

"In the end," concludes Epstein, "everything is connected with everything else. If you are trying to understand the way in which the markets survive and societies prosper, it is because they get enough of the easy cases right by embracing competitive solutions."