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Bailouts In Federations: Is A Hard Budget Constraint Always Best?

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  • Martin Besfamille
  • Ben Lockwood

Abstract

This article analyses hard and soft budget constraints in a federation, where there is a moral hazard problem between the central and the regional governments. Regional governments can avoid a bailout from the center by exerting costly effort. In this setting, a hard budget constraint is not always optimal because it can provide excessive incentives for high effort, and thus discourage investment that is socially efficient. Thus, a hard budget constraint can imply the opposite kind of inefficiency that emerges under a soft budget constraint, where the common pool problem can give rise to inefficiently low effort and overinvestment. Copyright ©2008 by the Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Besfamille & Ben Lockwood, 2008. "Bailouts In Federations: Is A Hard Budget Constraint Always Best?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 577-593, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:49:y:2008:i:2:p:577-593
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. J. Kornai & E. Maskin & G. Roland., 2004. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 12.
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    4. Jin, Jing & Zou, Heng-fu, 2002. "How does fiscal decentralization affect aggregate, national, and subnational government size?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 270-293, September.
    5. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
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    7. Jonathan A. Rodden & Gunnar S. Eskeland (ed.), 2003. "Fiscal Decentralization and the Challenge of Hard Budget Constraints," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182297.
    8. Caplan, Arthur J. & Cornes, Richard C. & Silva, Emilson C. D., 2000. "Pure public goods and income redistribution in a federation with decentralized leadership and imperfect labor mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 265-284, August.
    9. Timothy D. Lane, 1993. "Market Discipline," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(1), pages 53-88, March.
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