Cyclopedia Of Economics 1st edition

I. Trust in the playing field

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I. Trust in the playing field

To transact, people have to maintain faith in a relevant economic horizon and in the immutability of the economic playing field or "envelope". Put less obscurely, a few hidden assumptions underlie the continued economic activity of market players.

They assume, for instance, that the market will continue to exist for the foreseeable future in its current form. That it will remain inert - unhindered by externalities like government intervention, geopolitical upheavals, crises, abrupt changes in accounting policies and tax laws, hyperinflation, institutional and structural reform and other market-deflecting events and processes.

They further assume that their price signals will not be distorted or thwarted on a consistent basis thus skewing the efficient and rational allocation of risks and rewards. Insider trading, stock manipulation, monopolies, hoarding - all tend to consistently but unpredictably distort price signals and, thus, deter market participation.

Market players take for granted the existence and continuous operation of institutions - financial intermediaries, law enforcement agencies, courts. It is important to note that market players prefer continuity and certainty to evolution, however gradual and ultimately beneficial. A venal bureaucrat is a known quantity and can be tackled effectively. A period of transition to good and equitable governance can be more stifling than any level of corruption and malfeasance. This is why economic activity drops sharply whenever institutions are reformed.

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