Let's visit a very small part of one such attempt from the year 2000, as David attempts to deny he actually said (about the QWERTY typewriter keyboard) that marketplace competition resulted in standardization on the wrong system (emphasis in David's paper);
Actually, it is within the context of static general equilibrium analysis that economists developed the concept of ‘market failure’ – namely, that the Pareto optimality of allocations arrived at via atomistically competitive markets is not guaranteed except under a stringent set of convexity conditions on production and preference sets; and, further, it requires the existence of markets for all extant and contingent commodities. One may or may not accept the usefulness for pragmatic policy purposes of defining ‘market failure’ in a way that takes those conditions as a reference ideal. Analytically, however, it remains a total non sequitur to assert that the essence of path dependence – a property defined for analyses of dynamical and stochastic processes–consists in asserting propositions regarding the possibility of ‘market failure’ that were proved first in the context of purely static and deterministic models.
Quite the contrary proposition holds: under full convexity conditions a non tatonnement general equilibrium process can be shown to converge in a strictly path dependent manner on one among the continuum of valid ‘core’ solutions which satisfy the criterion of Pareto optimality (see Fisher 1983, and David 1997b). This should be sufficient to expose the logical error of claiming that the essential difference between models of path dependence and standard neoclassical analysis must be the former's insistence on the presence of ‘market failure’.The reader is spared the rest of the double talk by David that follows in this paper, as the above should be enough to at least induce the suspicion that Professor David is hoping no one actually reads what he has to say. Instead, let's see what Douglas Puffert, who was Professor David's Stanford research assistant back when the Clio paper was written, had to say recently (2010) when he had the opportunity to write an article on path dependence for the Economic History Association's encyclopedia (which is, at least, unlike David's ramblings, readable);
...market failure per se has never been the primary concern of proponents of the importance of path dependence. Even when proponents have highlighted inefficiency as one possible consequence of path dependence, this inefficiency is often the result of imperfect foresight rather than of market failure. Market failure is, however, the primary concern of Liebowitz and Margolis. This difference in perspective is one reason that the arguments of proponents and opponents have often failed to meet head on....Market failure? Perish the thought.
Unfortunately for both David and Puffert, Brian Arthur (the other high priest of Path Dependence) is still around to contradict them, as he did just last year in his comments on Neil Kay's Rerun the tape of history and QWERTY always wins;
QWERTY, as a standard—or better as an example of what the market has served us up in the long evolution of one particular technology—has become in economics a focal point, a rallying point for a larger issue: whether the market can lock us into an inferior standard. And this itself is part of a still larger issue: whether the free markets of capitalist economies can drive us into inferior outcomes.
..... The correct question is whether economic markets can lock in to inferior outcomes.