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Re: transaction costs in anonymous markets


In message <[email protected]>, [email protected] said:
> On Wed, 18 Oct 1995, David Murray wrote:
> > B. Unilateral Anonymity. One party to the transaction is known, but the other
> > is unknowable. An example might be subscribing for a digital security with
> > ecash - the issuer is known, but the purchaser is anonymous.
> > 
> > C. Bilateral Anonymity. The identities of both parties to the transaction
> > are unknowable. This might be the case on a cypherpunk stock exchange...
> Or we could use the client/server terminology when possible.

I was actually vaguely referring to contract theory - unilateral and bilateral
executory contracts.

And this is where this discussion folds into Bob Hettinga's point about
non-repudiation. How can an anonymous party credibly bind its future actions?

One way is to hide the identity of the human/actor making the promise/contract
but leave their assets where the other party (the promisee) can get to them if
the anonymous party defaults. (The reputation of a pseudonym is an interesting
version of this.) A pledge of digital securities is a possibility; some sort
of protected pool of assets is another.

Alot of transactions/contracts only involve one party making a promise that
they have to perform in the future. When I get on a bus, once I've paid the
fare, only the bus company still has to perform its half of the contract
(although, as something of a complicating factor, I could still _breach_
the contract). This is why I used the subscription for a security as an
example - once I've paid my ecash, it's only the issuer that has to make
the coupon payments and redeem the security in the future - the contract is
unilaterally executory, with the known party still to perform.

But alot of contracts involve performance over time by _both_ parties - they
are bilaterally executory. It would seem that, to be effective, both of the
parties (or at least sufficient of their assets) must be known.

So, unilateral/bilateral anonymity is kind of the complement of unilateral/
bilateral executoriness.

Perhaps client/server terminology is better.

[And before someone points it out - alot of these issues have been explored
centuries ago, and the answers led to commercial innovations like bills of
exchange, bills of sale, bills of lading etc. I plan to spend more time
learning from legal history in the hope we are destined to repeat it...]



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