Strategic Budgeteering and Debt Allocation
AbstractThis paper analyzes how opportunistic governments choose between alternative fiscal policies in order to increases their chances of re-election. To increase the provision of public goods shortly before elections – and thus, to generate a fiscal political business cycles – governments may either increase deficits or redistribute governmental resources from longterm efficient sources to short-term efficient public programs. We argue that incumbents who face highly competed elections principally have an incentive to spend more on public goods even though these investments are not efficient in the long term. In principal, they would do so by increasing the deficits (with re-balancing the budget after the election). However, our model demonstrates that incumbents would even electioneer at the cost of long-term investments if the extent of fiscal transparency does not allow them to finance the provision of public goods with higher deficits. In other words, if elections are close and voters may observe the governmental deficit, then governments tend to increase the provision of public goods – and consequently, their electoral prospects – by a redistribution of budget resources from long-term efficient investment to a short-term provision of public goods. We test the predictions with new data on the composition of government consumption for 17 OECD countries over 35 years. The preliminary findings suggest that governments indeed reshuffle resources from long-term efficient investment to short-term public goods before elections especially if elections are contested.
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This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-05-22 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2012-05-22 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-PBE-2012-05-22 (Public Economics)
- NEP-POL-2012-05-22 (Positive Political Economics)
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