We examine the “new comparative economics” as proposed by Djankov et al. (2003) and their use of the concept of an institutional possibilities frontier. While we agree with their general argument that one must consider a variety of institutions and their respective social costs, including legal systems and cultural characteristics, when comparing the performance of different economic systems, we find various complications and difficulties with the framework they propose. We propose that a broader study of clusters of institutions and such newly emerging forms as the new traditional economy may be better suited as ways to approach the study of comparative economics in the era after the breakdown of the old comparison of market capitalism and command socialism that came to an end with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
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