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Power Fluctuations and Political Economy

  • Daron Acemoglu

    (MIT and CIFAR)

  • Michael Golosov

    (Yale University and NES)

  • Aleh Tsyvinski

    (Yale University and NES)

We study the constrained Pareto efficient allocations in a dynamic production economy in which the group that holds political power decides the allocation of resources. We show that Pareto efficient allocations take a quasi-Markovian structure and can be represented recursively as a function of the identity of the group in power and updated Pareto weights. For high discount factors, the economy converges to a first-best allocation in which labor supply decisions are not distorted and the levels of labor supply and consumption are constant over time (though there may be transfers from one group to another). For low discount factors, the economy converges to an invariant stochastic distribution in which distortions do not disappear and labor supply and consumption levels fluctuate over time. The labor supply of groups that are not in power are taxed in order to reduce the deviation payoff of the party in power and thus relax the political economy/sustainability constraints. We also show that the set of sustainable first-best allocations is larger when there is less persistence in the identity of the party in power. This result contradicts a common conjecture that there will be fewer distortions when the political system creates a “stable ruling group”. In contrast, political economy distortions are less important when there are frequent changes in power (because this encourages compromise between social groups). Despite this result, it remains true that distortions decrease along sample paths where a particular group remains in power for a longer span of time.

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Paper provided by Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in its series EIEF Working Papers Series with number 0911.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision: Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:0911
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000886, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Roland , Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Seminar Papers 633, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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  5. Edward C Prescott & Robert M Townsend, 2010. "Pareto Optima and Competitive Equilibria With Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2069, David K. Levine.
  6. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
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  8. Kocherlakota, Narayana R, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609, October.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2010. "Dynamic Mirrlees Taxation under Political Economy Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 841-881.
  10. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador, 2010. "Growth in the Shadow of Expropriation," 2010 Meeting Papers 1194, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  13. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation and Debt," Discussion Papers 1441, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2011. "Political economy of Ramsey taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 467-475, August.
  15. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2008. "Markets versus governments," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 159-189, January.
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  20. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "Coalition Formation in Non-Democracies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 987-1009.
  21. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422.
  22. Manuel Amador, 2004. "A Political Model Sovereign Debt Repayment," 2004 Meeting Papers 762, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
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