Book Announcement: Duke’s Edward J. Balleisen: Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff

More here.  Chapters that look as if they may be of particular interest to CL&P blog readers include The Enduring Dilemmas of Antifraud Regulation, The Shape-Shifting, Never-Changing World of Fraud, The Call for Investor and Consumer Protection (1930s to 1970s),  Moving toward Caveat Venditor,  Consumerism and the Reorientation of Antifraud Policy The Promise and Limits of the Antifraud State.  Part V is titled The Market Strikes Back (1970s to 2010s).  The author is associate professor of history and public policy and vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University.  Quoting from his blurb:

Published by Princeton University Press, this volume examines anti-fraud policies in the United States from the early nineteenth-century to the present.  I chart the gradual move away from a legal culture predicated on caveat emptor to one that gave investors and consumers greater protections, as well as the emergence of modern regulatory agencies with anti-fraud missions, at both the subnational and national levels.  At the same time, I trace the evolving regulatory functions of non-state actors, like the press and private regulators like the American Better Business Bureaus.  Throughout, the book pays close attention to regulatory governance in action – how agencies operate on a day to day basis, and how businesses responded to their efforts.  It also engages with the dynamics of bureaucratic innovation, the impact and limits of information disclosure as a mode of regulatory governance, and the trade-offs between vigorous anti-deception policies, on the one hand, and the fostering of competitive markets and concern for due process, on the other.  Fraud concludes with an extended consideration of the resurgent problem of business fraud during the deregulatory decades since the mid-1970s, an episode that underscores the importance of regulatory structures that provide effective fraud containment.  Underlying the book as a whole is my conviction that any sophisticated understanding of modern regulatory governance requires historical perspective.

Publisher’s Weekly:

“Balleisen shows how anti-fraud regulations were perennially weakened by Americans’ grudging admiration for clever con-men, industry lobbying, the doctrine of caveat emptor (the notion that buyers are responsible for avoiding scams), and fears that cracking down too harshly on fraudulent promises might dampen the investor enthusiasm powering the economy. Balleisen’s lucid, engagingly written mix of institutional and legal history, behavioral economics, and entertaining anecdotes illuminates this land of bilk and money”


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