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Columbia Law School

Contracts

2020

Economics

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The Paradox Of Contracting In Markets, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

The Paradox Of Contracting In Markets, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Contract design that motivates parties to invest and trade more efficiently occurs primarily in thin markets characterized by bespoke, bilateral agreements between commercial parties. In that environment, the cost of producing each contract is relatively high. Those costs are justified by offsetting design improvements in contractual incentives. In contrast, more efficient production of contract terms occurs in thick, multilateral markets where parties can realize the scale advantages of standardization. In this environment, the cost of producing individual contracts is relatively low but at the offsetting cost of undermining contractual incentives. These very different trade-offs are dictated by changes in the ...