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A Whiter Shade of Pale: on the Political Economy of Regulatory Instruments

We consider an intertemporal policy game between changing governments that differ in their attitudes towards a particular feature of market outcomes, exemplified with environmental pollution. When in power, a government will choose policy instruments and set strictness of regulation with a view to influencing the policy of future, possibly different, governments. We demonstrate that a ‘brown’ government favours emission quotas over effluent taxes, as quotas establish property rights that are costly to reverse. Conversely, a ‘green’ government prefers to regulate by taxes, in order to limit the incentives of future ‘brown’ governments to ease regulations. Strategic behaviour tends to exaggerate policy differences (making ‘green’ governments ‘greener’ and ‘brown’ governments ‘browner’) compared to when such strategic considerations were not an issue.

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File URL: http://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2004/Memo-29-2004.pdf
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Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 29/2004.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 04 Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2004_029
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.htmlEmail:


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  1. Hoel, Michael, 1998. " Emission Taxes versus Other Environmental Policies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 79-104, March.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1989. "Why a Stubborn Conservative Would Run a Deficit: Policy with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 325-45, May.
  3. 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.
  4. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  5. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  6. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
  7. Bruno Biais & Enrico Perotti, 2002. "Machiavellian Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 240-258, March.
  8. Adar, Zvi & Griffin, James M., 1976. "Uncertainty and the choice of pollution control instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 178-188, October.
  9. Coase, Ronald H, 1972. "Durability and Monopoly," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 143-49, April.
  10. Von Der Fehr, N.H.M. & Kuhn, K.U., 1992. "Coase vs. Pacman: Who Eats Whom in the Durable Goods Monopoly?," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 178.92, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  11. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-32, April.
  12. Fishelson, Gideon, 1976. "Emission control policies under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 189-197, October.
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