Solomon’s Knot – How Law Can End the Poverty of Nations

A legal theory of economic growth that details how effective property, contract, and business laws help to unite capital and ideas.

Solomon’s Knot, a book by Robert D. Cooter and Hans-Bernd Schäfer and published by Princeton University Press, is the newest release in the Kauffman Foundation Book Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Authors Cooter and Schäfer propose a legal theory of economic growth that details how effective property, contract, and business laws help to unite capital and ideas. They also demonstrate why ineffective private and business laws are the root cause of the poverty of nations in today’s world. Without the legal institutions that allow innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive, other attempts to spur economic growth are destined to fail.

The authors explain that sustained growth depends on innovation, whether it’s cutting-edge software from Silicon Valley, an improved assembly line in Sichuan, or a new export market for Swaziland’s leather. Developing a new idea requires money, which poses a problem of trust. The innovator must trust the investor with his idea and the investor must trust the innovator with her money. Cooter and Schäfer call this the “double trust dilemma of development.” Nowhere is this problem more acute than in poorer nations, where the failure to solve it results in stagnant economies.

Cooter and Schäfer propose a legal theory of economic growth that details how effective property, contract, and business laws help to unite capital and ideas. They also demonstrate why ineffective private and business laws are the root cause of the poverty of nations in today’s world. Without the legal institutions that allow innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive, other attempts to spur economic growth are destined to fail.

Robert D. Cooter is the Herman F. Selvin Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include The Strategic Constitution (Princeton). Hans-Bernd Schäfer is professor of law and economics at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany, and professor emeritus at the University of Hamburg. His books include The Economic Analysis of Civil Law.

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SOURCE: Princeton University Press, Kauffman Foundation