Private Ordering at the World’s First Futures Exchange

Modern derivative securities – financial instruments whose value is linked to or “derived” from some other asset – are often sophisticated, complex, and subject to a variety of rules and regulations. The same is true of the derivative instruments traded at the world’s first organized futures exchange, the Dojima Rice Exchange in Osaka, Japan, where trade flourished for nearly 300 years, from the late seventeenth century until shortly before World War II. This Article analyzes Dojima’s organization, efficiency, and amalgam of legal and extralegal rules. In doing so, it contributes to a growing body of literature on commercial self-regulation while shedding new light on three areas of legal and economic theory.