Networks, Law, and the Paradox of Cooperation
18 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2010 Last revised: 27 Jan 2021
Date Written: 2003
There is a tension between libertarians’ optimism about private supply of public goods and skepticism of the viability of voluntary collusion (Cowen 1992, Cowen and Sutter 1999). Playing off this asymmetry, Cowen (1992) advances the novel argument that the “free market in defense services” favored by anarcho-capitalists is a network industry where collusion is especially feasible. The current article dissolves Cowen’s asymmetry, showing that he fails to distinguish between self-enforcing and non-self-enforcing interaction. Case study evidence on network behavior before and after antitrust supports our analysis. Furthermore, libertarians’ joint beliefs on public goods and collusion are, contrary to Cowen and Sutter (1999), theoretically defensible.
Keywords: Networks, Anarcho-Capitalism, Collusion
JEL Classification: L13, K42, L15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation