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What do Notaries do? Overcoming Asymmetric Information in Financial Markets: The Case of Paris, 1751

Philip T. Hoffman, Gilles Postel-Vinay and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) / Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft
Vol. 154, No. 3 (Sept. 1998), pp. 499-530
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40752087
Page Count: 32
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What do Notaries do? Overcoming Asymmetric Information in Financial Markets: The Case of Paris, 1751
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Abstract

Using evidence from 18th century Paris, we explore how financial intermediaries resolved problems of asymmetric information in financial markets. The Parisian intermediaries were notaries, and after examining their role in asset markets, we develop a more general model of intermediaries' behavior and then test the model using a rich set of data from Paris. Institutions for disseminating information insured that intermediaries provided high quality service, and such institutions were central to the growth of asset markets in pre-industrial Europe.

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