Soft Budgets and Hard Rents: A Note
This note shows how Kornai's concept of the soft budget constraint can be decomposed into separate elements of technical inefficiency and relative price distortion. The distinction between r-budget softness and m-budget softness introduced by Gomulka is shown to correspond to the equivalent and compensating variation measures of efficiency loss. It is also argued that budget softness should be viewed as the outcome of a rent-seeking process in which a firm's action in the control sphere incurs an opportunity cost in the real sphere. Adopting such a perspective leads to a redefinition of the resource loss associated with budget softness and results in much higher estimates of the social costs of soft budgets than those proposed in the existing literature. Copyright 1990 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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