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Why is Argentina’s Fiscal Federalism so Inefficient? Entering the Labyrinth

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Abstract

A long-standing concern in political economy is whether outcomes are efficient in political equilibrium. Recent contributions have examined the efficiency/inefficiency of policy choices from a theoretical point of view. The aim of this paper is to examine such issue empirically. Building on existing "economic" diagnoses that highlight the deficient incentives present in Argentina’s Federal Tax-Sharing Agreement the paper will attempt to understand the politics behind its adoption and persistence. We suggest an explanation based on the transaction costs of Argentina’s political market. Although potentially Pareto-improving policies could have been adopted, they were not introduced because of the uncertainty over the future status of today’s bargains, and given the lack of institutions to enforce bargains among the political actors. The paper concludes offering some preliminary ideas for institutional engineering: what governance structures could help reduce these transaction costs? The purpose is to create an institutional framework in which political actors could negotiate among themselves, ensuring the enforceability of agreements, in order to achieve more efficient outcomes.

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Article provided by Universidad del CEMA in its journal Journal of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): II (1999)
Issue (Month): (May)
Pages: 169-209

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Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:2:y:1999:n:1:p:169-209

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  1. Juliana Bambaci & Tamara Saront & Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "The Political Economy of Economic Reforms in Argentina," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 75-88.
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  3. Sanguinetti, Pablo & Tommasi, Mariano, 2004. "Intergovernmental transfers and fiscal behavior insurance versus aggregate discipline," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 149-170, January.
  4. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  5. Mondino, Guillermo & Sturzenegger, Federico & Tommasi, Mariano, 1996. "Recurrent High Inflation and Stabilization: A Dynamic Game," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(4), pages 981-96, November.
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  12. Jones, Mark P. & Sanguinetti, Pablo & Tommasi, Mariano, 2000. "Politics, institutions, and fiscal performance in a federal system: an analysis of the Argentine provinces," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 305-333, April.
  13. Aizenman, Joshua, 1993. "Soft Budget Constraints, Taxes, and the Incentive to Cooperate," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(4), pages 819-32, November.
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  16. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  17. Mariano Tommasi, 1995. "Where are we in the Political Economy of Reform?," UCLA Economics Working Papers 733, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. Pablo Sanguinetti, 1994. "Intergovernmental transfers and public sector expenditures: a game-theoretic approach," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 21(2 Year 19), pages 179-212, December.
  19. Sturzenegger, Federico & Tommasi, Mariano, 1994. "The Distribution of Political Power, the Costs of Rent-Seeking, and Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 236-48, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mariano Tommasi & Miguel Braun, 2002. "Fiscal Rules for Subnational Governments. Some Organizing Principles and Latin American Experiences," Working Papers 44, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Mar 2002.
  2. Russell W. Cooper & Hubert Kempf., 2001. "Dollarization and the conquest of hyperinflation in divided societies," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-12.
  3. Russell Cooper & Hubert Kempf, 2000. "Designing stabilization policy in a monetary union," Working Paper 0001, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  4. Shah, Anwar, 2005. "Fiscal decentralization and fiscal performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3786, The World Bank.
  5. Russell Cooper & Hubert Kempf & Dan Peled, 2008. "Is It Is Or Is It Ain'T My Obligation? Regional Debt In A Fiscal Federation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1469-1504, November.
  6. José Bercoff & Osvaldo Meloni, 2009. "Federal budget allocation in an emergent democracy: evidence from Argentina," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 65-83, January.
  7. Meloni, Osvaldo, 2011. "Budget Manipulation and Vertical Fiscal Imbalance," MPRA Paper 50694, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Lavrov, Aleksei & Litwack, John & Sutherland, Douglas, 2001. "Fiscal federalist relations in Russia: a case for subnational autonomy," MPRA Paper 26537, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Malesky, Edmund & Nguyen, Cuong & Tran, Anh, 2013. "The Impact of Recentralization on Public Services: A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Abolition of Elected Councils in Vietnam," MPRA Paper 54187, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Emmanuel Abuelafia & Sergio Berensztein & Miguel Braun & Luciano di Gresia, 2005. "Who Decides on Public Expenditures? A Political Economy Analysis of the Budget Process: The Case of Argentina," Public Economics 0511004, EconWPA.
  11. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Fiscal decentralization and macroeconomic management," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 437-462, August.

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