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Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles

Listed author(s):
  • Kenneth Rogoff
  • Anne Sibert

There is an extensive empirical literature on political business cycles, but its theoretical foundations are grounded in pre-rational expectations macroeconomic theory. Here we show that electoral cycles in taxes, government spending and money growth can be modeled as an equilibrium signaling process. The cycle is driven by temporary information asymmetries which can arise if, for example, the government has more current information on its performance in providing for national defence. Incumbents cheat least when their private information is either extremely favourable or extremely unfavourable. An exogeneous increase in the incumbent party's popularity does not necessarily imply a damped policy cycle.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/2297526
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 55 (1988)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-16

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:55:y:1988:i:1:p:1-16.
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  1. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Limit Pricing and Entry under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 443-459, March.
  2. Canzoneri, Matthew B, 1985. "Monetary Policy Games and the Role of Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1056-1070, December.
  3. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  4. James W. Friedman, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-12.
  5. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
  6. Stigler, George J, 1973. "General Economic Conditions and National Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 160-167, May.
  7. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
  8. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  9. Radner, Roy, 1985. "Repeated Principal-Agent Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(5), pages 1173-1198, September.
  10. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-538, June.
  11. Riley, John G, 1979. "Informational Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 331-359, March.
  12. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
  13. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Positive Theory of Discretionary Policy, the Cost of Democratic Government and the Benefits of a Constitution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(3), pages 367-388, July.
  14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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