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When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?

  • Cukierman, Alex
  • Tommasi, Mariano

Substantial policy changes, like market-oriented reforms by populist parties and steps towards peace by 'hawks,' are sometimes implemented by 'unlikely' parties. To account for such episodes, this paper develops a framework in which incumbent politicians have better information about the state of the world than voters. The incumbent is unable to credibly transmit all this information since voters are also imperfectly informed about his ideology. The paper identifies conditions under which an incumbent party's electoral prospects increase the more atypical the policy it proposes. Popular support for a policy, or its 'credibility,' depends on the policymaker-policy pair. Copyright 1998 by American Economic Association.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 88 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 180-97

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:88:y:1998:i:1:p:180-97
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  1. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "Bureaucrats versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-87, November.
  2. Martin J Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2009. "A Course in Game Theory," Levine's Bibliography 814577000000000225, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Paul R. Masson & Allan Drazen, 1994. "Credibility of Policies Versus Credibility of Policymakers," IMF Working Papers 94/49, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Cukierman, A. & Liviatan, N., 1989. "Optimal Accommodation By Strong Policymakers Under Incomplete Information," Papers 13-89, Tel Aviv.
  5. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Alex Cukierman, 1992. "Central Bank Strategy, Credibility, and Independence: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262031981, June.
  7. Rogoff, Kenneth & Sibert, Anne, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
  8. Banks, Jeffrey S, 1990. "Monopoly Agenda Control and Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 445-64, May.
  9. Alesina, Alberto & Cukierman, Alex, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-50, November.
  10. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "The Emergence of Party Ideology when Voter Are Uncertain about How the Economy Works," Papers 396, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  11. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-97, March.
  12. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  13. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Cheap Talk and the Fed: A Theory of Imprecise Policy Announcements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 32-42, March.
  14. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  15. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, June.
  16. Rodrik, Dani, 1993. "The Positive Economics of Policy Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 356-61, May.
  17. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  18. Cesar Martinelli & Mariano Tommasi, 1993. "Sequencing of Economic Reforms in the Presence of Political Constraints," UCLA Economics Working Papers 701, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. John Williamson, 1994. "The Political Economy of Policy Reform," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 68.
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