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Discretionary Policy and Multiple Equilibria

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  • Robert G. King

Abstract

Discretionary policymaking can foster strategic complementarities between private sector decisions, thus leading to multiple equilibria. This article studies a simple example, originating with Kydland and Prescott, of a government which must decide whether to build a dam to prevent adverse effects on floods on the incomes of residents of a floodplain. In this example, it is socially inefficient to build the dam and for people to live on the floodplain, with this outcome being the unique equilibrium under policy commitment. Under discretion, there are two equilibria. First, if agents believe that few of their fellow citizens will move to the floodplain, then they know that the government will choose not to build the dam and there is therefore no incentive for any individual to locate on the floodplain. Second, if agents believe that there will be many floodplain residents, then they know that the government will choose to build the dam and even small benefits of living on the floodplain will lead them to choose that location. In this second equilibrium, all individuals are worse off.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12076.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Publication status: published as King, Robert G. "Discretionary Policy And Multiple Equilibria," FRB Richmond - Economic Quarterly, 2006, v92(1,Winter), 1-15.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12076

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  1. Chari, V. V. & Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1998. "Expectation Traps and Discretion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 462-492, August.
  2. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  3. Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 2004. "Monetary discretion, pricing complementarity and dynamic multiple equilibria," International Finance Discussion Papers 802, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  5. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
  7. Cooper, Russell & John, Andrew, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-63, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Ennis, Huberto M. & Keister, Todd, 2010. "Banking panics and policy responses," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 404-419, May.
  2. Huberto M. Ennis & Todd Keister, 2007. "Bank runs and institutions : the perils of intervention," Working Paper 07-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  3. Huberto M. Ennis, 2005. "Complementariedades y Política Macroeconómica," Department of Economics, Working Papers 054, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  4. Todd Keister & Huberto M. Ennis, 2007. "Commitment and Equilibrium Bank Runs," 2007 Meeting Papers 509, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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