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Measuring the costs and benefits of regulation: Conceptual issues in securities markets

This paper reviews the economic theory of regulation and surveys the empirical evidence on its application to past and recent changes in U.S. securities regulation. The theory provides multiple potential motives for regulation and cautions the empirical researcher against naïve modeling of the costs and benefits of regulatory change. Moreover, the nature of the regulatory process compounds the standard pitfalls of empirical analysis such as endogeneity and confounding events. Productive empirical techniques include the development of cross-sectional predictions of the effects of regulation as well as the use of unregulated control samples. An important avenue for future research is a more refined estimation of the extent to which regulation has unintended consequences.

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