Sawers responds to Columbia Law Professor Michael Heller's thesis that a world of too many private property rights leads to a tragedy of the anticommons, where many rights give too many people veto power over any particular property use. Heller uses his thesis to explain the emergence of informal kiosks to sell goods in transition Russia as an alterative to storefronts. But Sawers argues that kiosks are more palatable investments there because they require less up-front investment.
Sawers aims to remind readers that a variety of factors contribute to and explain the economic underperformance of developing and transition countries. Correctly diagnosing the reasons for the underperformance of retail in transition Moscow is important to appropriately tailor the responses to this problem, Sawers writes. If anticommons is the problem, then reforming property law will improve property use. If, however, undercapitalization, corruption, organized crime, and government extortion are the cause of private-sector weakness, other solutions are in order, he says.
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Sawers came to the College of Law from Harvard University, where he was a Post-Graduate Research Fellow and taught several courses for the Economics Department, including a course on law and economics and the economics of property. His area of research interest is property law, in particular where property regimes are unstable, developing or in transition. In his current research projects, he's exploring both the material conditions determining property law, but also the effect of property regimes on resource utilization.