Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History (National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report)

Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History (National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report)

Language: English

Pages: 396

ISBN: 0226299589

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Despite recent corporate scandals, the United States is among the world’s least corrupt nations. But in the nineteenth century, the degree of fraud and corruption in America approached that of today’s most corrupt developing nations, as municipal governments and robber barons alike found new ways to steal from taxpayers and swindle investors. In Corruption and Reform, contributors explore this shadowy period of United States history in search of better methods to fight corruption worldwide today.

Contributors to this volume address the measurement and consequences of fraud and corruption and the forces that ultimately led to their decline within the United States. They show that various approaches to reducing corruption have met with success, such as deregulation, particularly “free banking,” in the 1830s. In the 1930s, corruption was kept in check when new federal bureaucracies replaced local administrations in doling out relief.  Another deterrent to corruption was the independent press, which kept a watchful eye over government and business. These and other facets of American history analyzed in this volume make it indispensable as background for anyone interested in corruption today.

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manuscripts distributed on the Bureau’s web site are not deemed to be publications for the purpose of this resolution, but they shall be consistent with the object stated in paragraph 1. Working papers shall contain a specific disclaimer noting that they have not passed through the review procedures required in this resolution. The NBER’s web site shall contain a similar disclaimer. The President shall establish an internal review process to ensure that the working papers and the web site do not

Economic Research, September. Wallis, John Joseph, Richard Sylla, and John Legler. 1994. The interaction of taxation and regulation in nineteenth century U.S. banking. In The regulated economy: A historical approach to political economy, ed. C. Goldin and G. Libecap, 121–44. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wallis, John Joseph, and Barry Weingast. 2005. Equilibrium federal impotence: Why the states and not the American national government financed infrastructure investment in the antebellum

engineers to become more pronounced.26 Although other factors, such as the originally unscheduled cessation of construction between 1842 and 1847, certainly played an important role in accounting for cost overruns, the findings of the investigators suggest that poor governance (encompassing acceptance of incompetence or inefficiency), if not an increased prevalence of outright fraud, help to explain why the costs of enlarging and improving the Erie Canal ballooned from the initial projection of

the state, seize the day: State capture, corruption, and influence in transition. World Bank Policy Working Paper 2444. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Internal improvements in the state of New York. 1850. Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review 28:259–69, 383–95, 497–508. King, Charles. 1843. A memoir of the construction, cost, and capacity of the Croton Aqueduct. New York: Charles King. Klein, Maury. 1987. Union Pacific: Birth of a railroad, 1862–1893. New York: Doubleday. La Porta,

administration to possess adequate supply for the entire city) was revived. Additional costs of supplementing Spot Pond water with Mystic Pond water reportedly made Long Pond the most appealing source in light of Boston’s continued rapid population growth. The two commissioners who originally constituted a majority in favoring Spot Pond had now changed their minds; Long Pond was now the unanimous choice recommended by a new commission report. After considerable wrangling in the legislature and a

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