Arruñada, Benito (2014), “Registries,”Man and the Economy, 1(2), 209-30.
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Governments and international development agencies often fail in their efforts to build and reform property and company registries. They implement misguided policies rooted in a poor understanding of the role that registries play in the modern economy. This work aims to remedy this situation by first presenting a theory of registries as market-enabling institutions which, by making private contracts verifiable by judges, enable truly impersonal (i.e., asset-based, in rem) trade without endangering property enforcement. The theory is then applied to discuss and guide major policy decisions that reformers face in the areas of land titling and business formalization, emphasizing the principle of registry independence, identifying courts as the key users of registries, clarifying the main choices of titling and formalization projects, and pointing out the presence of diseconomies of scope between contractual and administrative registries.