“Law and Disorder” -The Economist


This article is relevant to the material we are currently working on of public goods, institutions, and social welfare. The author states that the abundance of overlapping and simultaneously independent groups/committees/organizations that prosecute financial institutions is leading to inefficiency in our government. Aside from the SEC, Department of Justice, and the CFTC, there are countless others that can take one firm to trial for essentially the same offense. Particularly alarming, these institutions – founded to increase social welfare by making wrongdoers responsible for their actions – are in fierce competition with each other to be the first to attack a firm. This is because the main course of action is to settle with the company, and whoever gets there first can get the largest amount of money. Many SEC cases recently were settled on the very same day that the complaint was filed. The person responsible for making such a deal in the governmental institution has a lot to gain monetarily and in prestige. Therefore, the personal incentives no longer line up with the social welfare; a SEC official is seeking out a high profile case to put him further in his career, not bringing justice to a financial firm.
Furthermore, there is the issue of transparency that makes this plethora of institutions damaging to social welfare. Being litigated by so many different groups means that most firms find the law confusing and abstract, the only solution when a problem arises being to throw money into a settlement. I believe that the tangled and overlapping administrations highlighted in this article are indicative of a major issue plaguing all of our institutions in the U.S.

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