On disclosure: The hydraulic theory

We know that people respond to incentives, and that behavior will adjust in response to relative changes in price. But I think it’s commonly assumed that the only relevant price change attributable to disclosure regulations is the nominal change in direct costs of compliance. Sure, we all understand that if shareholder or regulatory pressure is brought to bear on corporate actors as a consequence of disclosure, that pressure can change behavior. But for some reason we’re unduly optimistic about this change; we just assume it will be for the better (you know, because “sunlight is a good disinfectant.” Brandeis said so).

Read the full piece here.