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Le regolarità della regolamentazione economica

Anno XXIII, n. 100, gennaio-marzo 1988
Centro Einaudi


The Regularities of Regulation

The subject of this paper is the identification of the forces which influence primarily, in the long term, the extension of state control over economic life. The author considers two cases: the first is the vast growth of the civil service in the modern age (in the nineteenth century the state had a very limited role in economics); the second is the recent deregulation of American financial markets. In his analysis of these cases, the author reaches the conclusion that the thesis whereby public opinion and intellectual climate are decisive in determining economic policies is unacceptable. It is the interplay of the egoistic interest of the various social and economic groups which determines the extent of the state's role. In other words, the size of the share of economic life controlled by the state in a society depends on the actual social and economic conditions reigning in the society itself. In conclusion, the author affirms that the economist's role is not to endeavour to orientate and inspire public opinion and governments directly – that would be of little or no effect at all. His real job is to uncover and reveal the general rules of economic life which, once known, cannot fail to influence economic policy.