Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Euvoluntary II

I presented the Euvoluntary Exchange paper (informally) today at the IHS Liberty and Society Conference.

Anyone who wants a copy of the paper can find it here...


Firionel said...

All in all a well-argued take, imho. I like the approach of looking at the system by focussing on individual exchanges, and I think I agree with the basic conclusion, at least in broad terms. I would like to point to the famous 'Sugarscape' model by Epstein and Axtell as further evidence of inequality resulting from perfectly unobjectionable interactions.

However I believe that all critical assumptions should be made quite clear, and I feel you have failed to do so.

1 You quite clearly assume that no exchange can have any kind of influence whatsoever on a third party. As far as the real world is concerned that strikes me as a rather strong claim.

2 "But the effect of these laws is to force people to accept the BATNA that we wanted to avoid in the first place!" you write with respect to anti-gouge laws. That is, of course, true (and a rather important observation, if I may say so). However in making that the centre piece of your argument you discount the obvious deontological argument. Worse yet, you completely overlook the fact that such laws might have been designed in such a manner as to remove any incentive to get people into having undesirable BATNAs in the first place. I think it's arguable that this will not improve wellfare (particularly with respect to natural disasters), but that's not a foregone conclusion.

3 On the whole I don't think the complexity and fluidity of market systems is accounted for well in the argument. One point in this category can be for instance that I can be retroactively harmed by a subsequent exchange: had I had knowledge of this trade being made in the future I would not have agreed to my trade at the time I did. Once one allows exchanges to be an information medium, and the market to be the place where all these informations come together, I fear the whole argument might go to pieces because of such complications. In the current version your argument (at least in my lay understanding) seems to presuppose that endowments are not held with the purpose of trading in mind, so that my outcome is not influenced by subsequent trades. [really just a fancy version of 1 I guess.]

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