Can markets be expected to prevent themselves from self-destruction?

Even if competitive markets have shown themselves to be the most efficient organizational formfor creating economic efficiency, the question of how they can avoid destructive influence from agents with opportunistic motives remains unresolved. Different institutional approaches have argued that to be efficient, markets need to be embedded in a set of formal and informal institutions. Because such institutions will in the long run make all market agents better off, they are labeled efficient institutions. Contrary to what is argued in neoclassical economics, it is unlikely that such institutions will be created endogenously by market agents because the institutions are to be understood as genuine public goods. Moreover, if such institutions have been established, we should expect market agents to face a collective action problem when sustaining them, leading to the destruction of the institutions. The conclusion is that if left to themselves, markets should be understood as inherently self-destructive.

Rothstein, Bo. 2011. “Can markets be expected to prevent themselves from self-destruction?” Regulation & Governance 5:387-404.