Grabbing Hand

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Overview

In many countries, public sector institutions impose heavy burdens on economic life: heavy and arbitrary taxes retard investment, regulations enrich corrupt bureaucrats, state firms consume national wealth, and the most talented people turn to rent-seeking rather than productive activities. As a consequence of such predatory policies--described in this book as the grabbing hand of the state--entrepreneurship lingers and economies stagnate.

The authors of this collection of essays describe many of these pathologies of a grabbing hand government, and examine their consequences for growth. The essays share a common viewpoint that political control of economic life is central to the many government failures that we observe. Fortunately, a correct diagnosis suggests the cures, including the best strategies of fighting corruption, privatization of state firms, and institutional building in the former socialist economies. Depoliticization of economic life emerges as the crucial theme of the appropriate reforms. The book describes the experiences with the grabbing hand government and its reform in medieval Europe, developing countries, transition economies, as well as today's United States.

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Editorial Reviews

The Economist
[The Grabbing Hand's] range of materials is impressive: the chapters deal with the growth of European cities before the industrial revolution, corruption in post-Soviet Russia, privatisation in Eastern Europe, local government in the United States, and more. The authors keep technical apparatus to a minimum. By any standard, let alone the debased standard of most modern economics, the essays are lucid and literate.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674010147
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrei Shleifer is Professor of Economics at Harvard University.

Robert Vishny is Professor in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Perspectives on Government 1
2 Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution 19
3 The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth 53
4 Why Is Rent Seeking So Costly to Growth? 81
5 Corruption 91
6 Pervasive Shortages under Socialism 109
7 The Politics of Market Socialism 123
8 A Theory of Privatization 137
9 Politicians and Firms 151
10 Privatization in the United States 183
11 Government in Transition 227
Notes 254
References 263
Index 275
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