In his Economics of Control , A. P. Lerner threw out an interesting suggestion that where markets are imperfectly competitive, a state agency, through “counterspeculation,” might be able to create the conditions whereby the marginal conditions for efficient resource allocation could be maintained. Unfortunately, it was not made clear just how this counterspeculation was to be carried out, and to many this term denotes just one more of the empty boxes that rattle around in the economist's cupboard of ideas. And there appears to have been, in the years since Economics of Control first appeared, no attempt to examine critically just what this intriguingly labeled box might in fact contain. In Section I this counterspeculation box will be further examined; it turns out that most of the devices that most immediately suggest themselves under this heading prove to be inordinately expensive in terms of their demands on the fiscal resources of the state relative to the net benefits to be realized, at least where the commodity in question is finely divisible. The other extreme case, where there is only a single indivisible item to be allocated, is examined in Section II; in this case the possibilities for reaching
The Journal of Finance – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1961
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