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Separation of Powers and Political Budget Cycles

  • Jorge M. Streb
  • Alejandro Saporiti

From a theoretical viewpoint, political budget cycles (PBC) arise in equilibrium when rational voters are imperfectly informed about the incumbent's competency and the incumbent enjoys discretionary power over the budget. This paper focuses on the second condition, examining how executive discretion is affected by the budgetary process under separation of powers. We specifically model PBC in the composition of government spending. The main result is that effective checks and balances in the budgetary process curb PBC. The institutional features of the executive-legislature bargaining game, namely, the actual agenda-setting authority, the status quo location and the degree of legislative oversight and control of the implementation of the budgetary law, play critical roles for the existence and the size of PBC. These results are consistent with recent empirical findings, which show that PBC are more pronounced in developing countries, where there are also less effective checks and balances.

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Paper provided by Universidad del CEMA in its series CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. with number 251.

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Date of creation: Nov 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cem:doctra:251
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  1. Min Shi & Jakob Svensson, 2003. "Political Budget Cycles: A Review of Recent Developments," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 29, pages 67-76.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
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  12. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2000. " Fiscal Policy Cycles and Public Expenditure in Developing Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 115-30, January.
  13. Shi, Min & Svensson, Jakob, 2002. "Conditional Political Budget Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 3352, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Brender, Adi & Drazen, Allan, 2005. "Political budget cycles in new versus established democracies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1271-1295, October.
  16. Lohmann, Susanne, 1998. "Institutional Checks and Balances and the Political Control of the Money Supply," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 360-77, July.
  17. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Do Electoral Cycles Differ Across Political Systems?," Working Papers 232, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  18. Jorge Miguel Streb, 2005. "Signaling in Political Budget Cycles: How Far Are You Willing to Go?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(2), pages 229-252, 05.
  19. McNollgast, 2007. "The Political Economy of Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
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