Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Portfolio of Imperfect Institutions

Markets, nonmarket institutions, and governments. From Economix:

First, a large share of our economic output is now produced by large companies whose sales exceed the gross domestic product of many countries of the world. The vertically integrated supply chains of these large, often bureaucratic institutions seldom involve markets....

Second, market output represents a subset of total economic output. ...time and energy to caring for ourselves, our families and our friends ... activities that improve our own living standards ... men now devote more time to housework and child care than they once did. As we move toward more equitable sharing of unpaid work, policies designed to help wage earners meet their family responsibilities ... seem expensive to us in part because we have taken women’s unpaid work for granted in the past.

Third, the present and future costs of environmental degradation are on the rise.

Markets aren’t the only imperfect institutions in our world. Governments, families and Mother Nature are also susceptible to failure.

The point is, like it or not, we rely on a portfolio of imperfect institutions — a mixed economy.

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