The way it works now is you write a paper then you send it to a journal and they review it and decide whether to publish it. The basic unit is the paper. What if we made the author the basic unit? Instead of inviting submissions, Econometrica invites applications for the position of author. Some number of authors are accepted and they can write whatever they want and have it published in Econometrica. The term would be temporary, maybe 1 year.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just write the paper you want to write, not the paper that the referees want you to write? The quality of papers would unambiguously increase. After all, your acceptance is a done deal, anything you write will be published, why bother writing anything less than the most interesting idea that is currently on your mind.
Quality control is achieved by rotating in the authors currently writing the most interesting stuff. Once the current slate of authors is chosen, there is no need anymore for referees or editors. But if you want peer review, you can have that too. Anyone wishing to prepare a referee report is invited to do so, they can even do it anonymously if they want and even make it open to the public. The journal might even want to append the reports onto the published paper.
Come to think of it, these journals already exist: blogs…