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Federal Fiscal Constitutions. Part I: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard

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  • Persson, Torsten
  • Tabellini, Guido

Abstract

Inspired by current European developments, we study equilibrium fiscal policy under alternative constitutional arrangements in a `federation' of countries. There are two levels of government: local and federal. Local policy redistributes across individuals and affects the probability of aggregate shocks, while federal policy shares international risk. Policies are chosen under majority rule. There is a moral-hazard problem: federal risk-sharing can induce local governments to enact policies that increase local risk. We investigate this incentive problem under alternative fiscal constitutions. In particular, we contrast a `horizontally-ordered' federal system like the United States (in which the federal government deals directly with individuals) with a `vertically-ordered' system like the EC (in which the federal government deals with national states). These alternative arrangements are not neutral, in the sense that they create different incentives for policy-makers and voters, and give rise to different political equilibria. A general conclusion is that centralization of functions and power can be welfare improving under appropriate institutions. This conclusion only applies, however, to the moral-hazard problem and a federation where the countries are not too dissimilar.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 728.

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Date of creation: Oct 1992
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:728

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Keywords: Fiscal Federalism; Investment Subsidies; Politics; Principal-Agent Models; Risk Sharing;

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  1. Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Jeffrey Sachs, 1991. "Fiscal Federalism and Optimum Currency Areas: Evidence for Europe From the United States," NBER Working Papers 3855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1978. "Intermediate Preferences and the Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 317-30, March.
  4. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  5. Bureau, Dominique & Champsaur, Paul, 1992. "Fiscal Federalism and European Economic Unification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 88-92, May.
  6. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
  7. Wildasin, David E, 1990. "Budgetary Pressures in the EEC: A Fiscal Federalism Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 69-74, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Agnello, Luca & Sousa, Ricardo M., 2009. "The determinants of public deficit volatility," Working Paper Series 1042, European Central Bank.
  2. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard & Spolaore, Enrico, 1996. "Economic theories of the break-up and integration of nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 697-705, April.
  3. Lejour, A.M., 1995. "Cooperative and competitive policies in the EU: The European Siamese twin?," Discussion Paper 1995-20, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Fausto Hernández Trillo & Alberto Díaz Cayeros & Rafael Gamboa González, 2002. "Fiscal Decentralization in Mexico: The Bailout Problem," Research Department Publications 3143, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  5. Caillaud, B. & Jullien, B. & Picard, P., 1996. "National vs European incentive policies: Bargaining, information and coordination," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 91-111, January.

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