IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Rent-seeking distortions and fiscal procyclicality

  • Ilzetzki, Ethan

Recent research has demonstrated that while government expenditures are countercyclical in most industrialized countries, they tend to be procyclical in developing countries. We develop a dynamic political-economy model to explain this phenomenon. In the model, public expenditures provide insurance to uninsured households, and optimal fiscal policy is countercyclical. The introduction of a political friction, in which successive governments disagree on the desired distribution of public spending, can lead to procyclical fiscal policies. Numerical simulations of the model allow us to compare quantitatively the relative role of common explanations for fiscal procyclicality. We conclude that political distortions in the fiscal process can explain fiscal procyclicality better than other common explanations, such as borrowing constraints and macroeconomic volatility.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 96 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 30-46

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:96:y:2011:i:1:p:30-46
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gabriel Cuadra & Horacio Sapriza, 2006. "Sovereign Default, Interest Rates and Political Uncertainty in Emerging Markets," Working Papers 2006-02, Banco de México.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Arnaud Devleeschauwer & William Easterly & Sergio Kurlat & Romain Wacziarg, 2003. "Fractionalization," NBER Working Papers 9411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2008. "Segregation and the Quality of Government in a Cross-Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 14316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marco Battaglini & Steve Coate, 2006. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation and Debt," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001094, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Krusell, Per & Kuruscu, Burhanettin & Smith Jr., Anthony A, 2001. "Equilibrium Welfare and Government Policy with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 2693, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 403-414.
  8. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
  9. Aschauer, David Alan, 1985. "Fiscal Policy and Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 117-27, March.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert J. Barro, 1980. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," NBER Working Papers 0432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
  13. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The origins of state capacity: property rights, taxation and politics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33768, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  15. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Why is fiscal policy often procyclical?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2090, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  16. Per Krusell & Anthony A Smith, Jr., 2001. "Consumption Savings Decisions with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000251,
  17. Daron Acemoglu & Michael Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2008. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 619-641, 05.
  18. Gabriel Cuadra & Horacio Sapriza, 2007. "Fiscal Policy and Default Risk in Emerging Markets," Working Papers 2007-03, Banco de México.
  19. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart, 2008. "Capital Flow Bonanzas: An Encompassing View of the Past and Present," NBER Working Papers 14321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  21. Manuel Amador, 2004. "A Political Model Sovereign Debt Repayment," 2004 Meeting Papers 762, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  22. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  25. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
  26. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-party System as a Repeated Game," Scholarly Articles 4552531, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. Claessens, Stijn, 2006. "Access to financial services: a review of the issues and public policy objectives," Journal of Financial Transformation, Capco Institute, vol. 17, pages 16-19.
  28. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  29. Philip R. Lane & Aaron Tornell, 1999. "The Voracity Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 22-46, March.
  30. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
  31. Arellano, Cristina, 2008. "Default risk and income fluctuations in emerging economies," MPRA Paper 7867, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  32. Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Vegh, 2000. "Tax Base Variability and Procyclical Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Marina, Azzimonti & Marco, Battaglini & Stephen, Coate, 2010. "On the Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," MPRA Paper 25935, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  34. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador & Gita Gopinath, 2006. "Efficient expropriation: sustainable fiscal policy in a small open economy," Working Papers 06-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  36. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "Fiscal Policy over the Real Business Cycle: A Positive Theory," NBER Working Papers 14047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:96:y:2011:i:1:p:30-46. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.