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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Jewish legal texts are important sources of information on Middle Eastern economies in the early centuries of the Common Era (ce). This article focuses on the Rashi’s explanation of seasonality and trading volume fluctuations of land prices, as discussed in tractate Bava Kamma of the Babylonian Talmud (Roman Palestine). Although the text itself was redacted in Babylonia, it is largely a commentary on the Mishnah, an earlier text redacted in Roman Palestine toward the end of the second-century ce. It may be argued that information asymmetry is a reasonable assumption in a firm, where the activities of the managers are not easily observable. It might even be reasonable in the case of land with multiple uses. The evidence of the Talmud indicates that information asymmetry can considerably depress the prices of assets and affect the liquidity of markets. This indicates the importance of attempts to reduce information asymmetry. Future work on market frictions in antiquity might consider other examples of information asymmetry in the agricultural economies discussed in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds.

Keywords: Middle Eastern economies, information asymmetry, land prices, trading, economies, Common Era

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