October 13, 2008
Blogger Comparative Advantage: Administrative v. International Law
Posted by David Zaring

International law exists and it is real, but it might be worth noting how differently it operates than does domestic administrative law.  When the financial crisis was local, we could evaluate the government's actions as lawyers might - were those actions consistent with its legal authority?  Then Congress passed legislation, and the limitations on Congress's ability to legislate how it wishes are much fewer, but still extant in the Constitution and so on.

Now that there is an increasingly global response, the issue has moved even further away from the legal constraints on government action.  There are very few treaties or customs that limit state action in the economic sphere (nationalization without compensation is a controversial exception, though), and so, in the view of this blogger, the interesting questions will turn from "how did they justify that given their current legal authority?" to "what legal institutions will they use to implement their preferred policies?"  And, of course, because it's an effort to coordinate international policy, "will it work at all?"

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