Innovation, Information & the Poverty of Nations

26 July 2012
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What do “successful” nations have that others do not? In this monograph, Professor Robert Cooter brings his understanding of law and economics to bear on the problem of what governments can, and cannot, expect to achieve, and how this should condition the development of law and governmental activity.

As suggested in the title, Cooter zeroes in on the key consideration in economic development: the use of knowledge in society, and the incentive (and the freedom) to act on it. He emphasises the distinction between public information and private information, and explains why one type is associated with innovation and the other is not. This helps explain much of our experience with “industrial policy”, and warns about what we can expect of it in the future.

Professor Cooter helps us to recognise and to understand the difference between effective law and ineffective law, and between helpful law and defective law. His explanation and elaboration of the relationships between information, capabilities, incentives, innovations, and how governments deal with property and contract law offer a rewarding read.
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