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Tariffs with private information and reputation


  • Jensen, Richard
  • Thursby, Marie


When governments choose trade policy, rarely do they have complete information, At the time decisions are made, policy makers have only estimates of market responses, as well as the responses of foreign governments. In many realistic situations, even the policy objectives of other governments may not be known. For example, the balance of constitutional powers in the United States is often cited as a source of confusion as to objectives of U.S. trade policy. In this paper we examine the Bayesian Nash equilibria of several noncooperative tariff games with incomplete information, In the models examined, the home country has private information about whether its government is a low or high tariff type. If the foreign government is uncertain about this type in a one-shot game, its Nash equilibrium tariff will be lower (higher) than if it knew the home government were a low (high) tariff type. In two multistage games, misleading behavior by the home government is shown to be an equilibrium strategy for sufficiently high discount factors. Whether the uncertainty is persistent or can be resolved is shown to be important for welfare results in the multistage setting. In the models examined, tariff rules do not necessarily dominate discretionary policy.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jensen, Richard & Thursby, Marie, 1990. "Tariffs with private information and reputation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 43-67, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:29:y:1990:i:1-2:p:43-67

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Rosenthal, R W, 1979. "Sequences of Games with Varying Opponents," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(6), pages 1353-1366, November.
    3. Stockman, Alan C. & Dellas, Harris, 1986. "Asset markets, tariffs, and political risk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 199-213, November.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra & Tracy R. Lewis, 1991. "Negotiated Trade Restrictions with Private Political Pressure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1287-1307.
    5. Feenstra, Robert C, 1987. " Incentive Compatible Trade Policies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(3), pages 373-387.
    6. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1985. "Tariffs as Insurance: Optimal Commercial Policy When Domestic Markets Are Incomplete," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(2), pages 258-272, May.
    7. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-795, September.
    8. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-88-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-985, December.
    10. Staiger, Robert W. & Tabellini, Guido, 1989. "Rules and discretion in trade policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1265-1277, July.
    11. Riezman, Raymond, 1991. "Dynamic tariffs with asymmetric information," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 267-283, May.
    12. Anderson, James E. & Young, Leslie, 1982. "The optimality of tariff quotas under uncertainty," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3-4), pages 337-351, November.
    13. Leslie Young & James E. Anderson, 1980. "The Optimal Policies for Restricting Trade under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(5), pages 927-932.
    14. Thursby, Marie & Jensen, Richard, 1983. "A conjectural variation approach to strategic tariff equilibria," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 145-161, February.
    15. Cassing, J H & Hillman, A L & Long, N V, 1986. "Risk Aversion, Terms of Trade Uncertainty and Social-Consensus Trade Policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 234-242, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Feestra, R.C. & Lewis, T.R. & Mcmillan, J., 1989. "Designing Policies To Open Trade," Papers 349, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    2. McCalman, Phillip, 2002. "Multi-lateral trade negotiations and the Most Favored Nation clause," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 151-176, June.
    3. Frederick W. Mayer, 1991. "Domestic politics and the strategy of international trade," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 222-246.
    4. Bac, Mehmet & Raff, Horst, 1997. "A theory of trade concessions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-4), pages 483-504, May.
    5. Kent Kimbrough, 2008. "Optimal Taxes and Tariffs with Private Information," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 411-422, September.
    6. Lee, Gea M., 2007. "Trade agreements with domestic policies as disguised protection," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 241-259, March.
    7. Stahl, Dale O. & Turunen-Red, Arja H., 1995. "Tariff games: Cooperation with random variation in political regimes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 215-238, June.

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