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When Is It Optimal to Delegate: The Theory of Fast-Track Authority

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  • Levent Celik
  • Bilgehan Karabay
  • John McLaren

Abstract

With fast-track authority (FTA), the US Congress delegates trade policy authority to the president by committing not to amend a trade agreement. Why would it cede such power? We suggest an interpretation in which Congress uses FTA to forestall destructive competition between its members for protectionist rents. In our model: (i) FTA is never granted if an industry operates in the majority of districts; (ii) The more symmetric the industrial pattern, the more likely is FTA, since competition for protectionist rents is most punishing when bargaining power is symmetrically distributed; (iii) Widely disparate initial tariffs prevent free trade even with FTA. (JEL C78, D72, F13, F14)

Suggested Citation

  • Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay & John McLaren, 2015. "When Is It Optimal to Delegate: The Theory of Fast-Track Authority," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 347-389, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:347-89
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20140031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
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    5. Celik, Levent & Karabay, Bilgehan & McLaren, John, 2013. "Trade policy-making in a model of legislative bargaining," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 179-190.
    6. Eraslan, Hulya, 2002. "Uniqueness of Stationary Equilibrium Payoffs in the Baron-Ferejohn Model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 11-30, March.
    7. Baron, David P. & Ferejohn, John A., 1989. "Bargaining in Legislatures," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(4), pages 1181-1206, December.
    8. David M. Primo, 2006. "Stop Us Before We Spend Again: Institutional Constraints On Government Spending," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 269-312, November.
    9. Nahum D. Melumad & Dilip Mookherjee, 1989. "Delegation as Commitment: The Case of Income Tax Audits," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 139-163, Summer.
    10. Joseph E. Gagnon, 2003. "Long-run supply effects and the elasticities approach to trade," International Finance Discussion Papers 754, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 2003.
    11. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay, 2011. "A Note on Equilibrium Uniqueness in the Baron-Ferejohn Model," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp440, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    12. Baron David & Kalai Ehud, 1993. "The Simplest Equilibrium of a Majority-Rule Division Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 290-301, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay & John McLaren, 2018. "Fast-Track Authority: A Hold-Up Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 24427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Xiangjun Ma & John McLaren, 2018. "A Swing-State Theorem, with Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay, 2011. "A Note on Equilibrium Uniqueness in the Baron-Ferejohn Model," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp440, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    4. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay, 2016. "Veto players and equilibrium uniqueness in the Baron–Ferejohn model," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 81(1), pages 33-52, June.
    5. Gleason Judd & Lawrence S. Rothenberg, 2020. "Flexibility or Stability? Analyzing Proposals to Reform the Separation of Powers," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(2), pages 309-324, April.
    6. Celik, Levent & Karabay, Bilgehan & McLaren, John, 2013. "Trade policy-making in a model of legislative bargaining," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 179-190.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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