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Why is Argentina’s Fiscal Federalism so Inefficient? Entering the Labyrinth

A long-standing concern in political economy is whether outcomes are efficient in political equilibrium. Recent contributions have examined the efficiency/inefficiency of policy choices from a theoretical point of view. The aim of this paper is to examine such issue empirically. Building on existing "economic" diagnoses that highlight the deficient incentives present in Argentina’s Federal Tax-Sharing Agreement the paper will attempt to understand the politics behind its adoption and persistence. We suggest an explanation based on the transaction costs of Argentina’s political market. Although potentially Pareto-improving policies could have been adopted, they were not introduced because of the uncertainty over the future status of today’s bargains, and given the lack of institutions to enforce bargains among the political actors. The paper concludes offering some preliminary ideas for institutional engineering: what governance structures could help reduce these transaction costs? The purpose is to create an institutional framework in which political actors could negotiate among themselves, ensuring the enforceability of agreements, in order to achieve more efficient outcomes.

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Article provided by Universidad del CEMA in its journal Journal of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): II (1999)
Issue (Month): (May)
Pages: 169-209

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Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:2:y:1999:n:1:p:169-209
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  1. Mariano Tommasi & Pablo Sanguinetti, 2003. "Intergovernmental Transfers and Fiscal Behavior: Insurance versus Aggregate Discipline," Working Papers 60, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Aug 2003.
  2. Aizenman, Joshua & Isard, Peter, 1993. "Externalities, incentives, and failure to achieve national objectives in decentralized economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 95-114, June.
  3. Tabellini, Guido, 1986. "Money, debt and deficits in a dynamic game," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 427-442, December.
  4. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
  5. Cukierman, A. & Tommasi, M., 1997. "When does it take a Nixon to go to China?," Discussion Paper 1997-91, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-63, February.
  7. Tommasi, Mariano & Velasco, Andres, 1995. "Where are we in the Political Economy of Reform?," Working Papers 95-20, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
  9. Joskow, Paul L, 1974. "Inflation and Environmental Concern: Structural Change in the Process of Public Utility Price Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 291-327, October.
  10. Mariano Tommasi, 1992. "Inflation and Relative Prices Evidence from Argentina," UCLA Economics Working Papers 661, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Juliana Bambaci & Tamara Saront & Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "The Political Economy of Economic Reforms in Argentina," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 75-88.
  12. Tommasi, Mariano, 1999. "On high inflation and the allocation of resources," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 401-421, December.
  13. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  14. Dixit, Avinash K & Londregan, John, 1994. "Redistributive Politics and Economic Efficiency," CEPR Discussion Papers 1056, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1999. "Inefficient Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Jones, Mark P. & Sanguinetti, Pablo & Tommasi, Mariano, 2000. "Politics, institutions, and fiscal performance in a federal system: an analysis of the Argentine provinces," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 305-333, April.
  17. Joshua Aizenman, 1990. "Soft Budget Constraints, Taxes, and the Incentive to Cooperate," NBER Working Papers 3561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Pablo Sanguinetti, 1994. "Intergovernmental transfers and public sector expenditures: a game-theoretic approach," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 21(2 Year 19), pages 179-212, December.
  19. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1996. "Whither Socialism?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691825, June.
  20. Sturzenegger, Federico & Tommasi, Mariano, 1994. "The Distribution of Political Power, the Costs of Rent-Seeking, and Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 236-48, April.
  21. Guillermo Mondino & Federico Sturzenegger & Mariano Tommasi, 1992. "Recurrent High Inflation and Stabilization, A Dynamic Game," UCLA Economics Working Papers 678, UCLA Department of Economics.
  22. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  23. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
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