Financial Stability, Economic Growth, and the Role of Law by Douglas W. Arner

Date01 January 2008
AuthorDavid Collins
Publication Date01 January 2008
principle as it once was, oras she claims it sti ll is? Or is the concentration of power
in the Executive needed to protec t the state or even, as the proponents of the mass
of criminal law and sentencing legislation of the last decade stridently claim, the
liberties of individualswho cannot exercisethose liberties if they walk in fear, feel
unsafe in their homesetc.? Whatever the answersgiven in speci¢c controversies, it
does not seem terribly helpful to invoke these skeletal principles since they are
equally useable on either, or several, sides.
However, Wicks has at least looked for principles in the right place: they are
political rather than legal. In one sense this is obvious because, though lawyers
sometimes get the relationship backwards, public law principles ultimately are
political or even moral precepts expressed in a particular form. But it is important
to focuson the right place because on any reasonableprediction of howthe global
political economy is evolving, long-established legal structures are likely to be
radically changed or even dismantled, whilst new ones, radically innovative in
purpose and structure, needs must be created.The overarching theme of course
is internationalisation, the conferring of previously domestic functions or juris-
dictions tomulti- or supra-national bodies.The ECHR and theEU were the ¢rst
majorsteps, limited to Europe; theWTOand allied bodies were, for good or ill, a
giant step beyond. In a very di¡erent sphere, and traditionally one that nation
states had even more jealously guarded as their own, the creation of the Interna-
tional Criminal Court, the developing global jurisdiction to eradicate impunity
for torture, and the tentative but visible beginnings of the erosion of classic state
immunity are now inchingalong in a parallel movement.
The overwhelming challenge, if we are serious about avoiding catastrophe,
will be creating politicaland administrative structures, and developing persuasive
moral and intellectual supports for them, capable of dealing with climate change
and environmental destruction. Legal institutionswill then need to be created to
make new norms e¡ective.Whether regarded as revolutionary or as radical evolu-
tion, these essential changes have the potential to present challenges to the values
Dr Wicks has identi¢ed as our constitutional core. It will be the task of a new
generation of thinkers, politicians and lawyers to ensure that what is valuable in
these principles is preserved in a time of what we are just beginning to realise is
unprecedented crisis, in which the costs must be borne by those present and vot-
ing for the bene¢t of the future.
Laurence Lustgarten
DouglasW.Arner,Financial Stability, Economic Growth, and the Role of Law
344 pp, pb d17.99, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
The recent collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States and
the ensuing turmoilamong domesticbanks such as Northern Rock will draw the
attention of legal scholars to this book which convincingly identi¢es the ways in
which legal systems can promote ¢nancial stability and prevent economic crises.
School of Law,University of Southampton.
156 r2008 The Authors. Journal Compilation r2008 The Modern Law ReviewLimited.
(2008) 71(1) 145^ 158

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