Financial Structure and Economic Organization

Basil Blackwell Inc.

Robert M. Townsend
January 1990
Financial Structure and Economic Organization
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This volume focuses on how groups of economic agents organize themselves, with a special interest in the financial arrangements they adopt. This is achieved primarily through the development and refinement of neoclassical models incorporating transactions costs and impediments to trade, but also through parallels with the organization of real economies drawn from the history of early Europe. The author demonstrates that the key elements determining financial structure and economic organization in history are the key features in the described environments of modern economics models. These include the facts that economics agents are separated in time and space; economic life is full of uncertainty; there are sometimes difficulties of communication among agents; and there can be problems in getting agents to commit to arrangements, the difficulties of costly and limited enforcement. Analyzing these central issues both in theory and in history, Professor Townsend makes a highly original contribution to the understanding of the diverse forms of economic and financial organization.