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Future Rent-Seeking and Current Public Savings

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Pierre Yared

Abstract

The conventional wisdom is that politicians' rent-seeking motives increase public debt and deficits. This is because myopic politicians face political risk and prefer to extract political rents as early as possible. An implication of this argument is that governments will under-save during a boom, leaving the economy unprotected in the event of a downturn. This view motivates a number of fiscal rules which are aimed at cutting deficits and constraining borrowing so as to limit the size of this political distortion. In this paper we study the determination of government debt and deficits in a dynamic model of debt which characterizes political distortions. We find that in our model the conventional wisdom always applies in the long run, but only does so in the short run when economic volatility is low. Instead, when economic volatility is high, a rent-seeking government over-saves and over-taxes along the equilibrium path relative to a benevolent government. Paradoxically, the over-saving bias can also be solved in this case by a rule of capping deficits, although the mechanism operates through its effect on expectations of future rent extraction rather than though the contemporary constraint. However, these rules are ineffective in solving the high taxation problem caused by the political friction, which in the short run is more acute in the high income volatility scenario.

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Future Rent-Seeking and Current Public Savings," NBER Working Papers 14417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14417
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    1. Undersaving governments
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-11-20 20:19:00

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    2. Azzimonti, Marina & de Francisco, Eva & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2012. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Raising of Public Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 8893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Cunha, Alexandre B. & Ornelas, Emanuel, 2014. "Political competition and the limits of political compromise," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60273, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Azzimonti, Marina & Talbert, Matthew, 2014. "Polarized business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 47-61.
    5. Ales, Laurence & Maziero, Pricila & Yared, Pierre, 2014. "A theory of political and economic cycles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 224-251.
    6. Roland Hodler, 2011. "Elections and the strategic use of budget deficits," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 149-161, July.
    7. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2011. "Political economy of Ramsey taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 467-475.
    8. Bowen, T. Renee & Chen, Ying & Eraslan, Hülya & Zápal, Jan, 2017. "Efficiency of flexible budgetary institutions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 148-176.
    9. Marina Azzimonti, 2015. "The dynamics of public investment under persistent electoral advantage," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 653-678, July.
    10. Rustam Jamilov, 2013. "Optimal Resource Rent," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp1046, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    11. Marina Azzimonti, 2011. "Barriers to Investment in Polarized Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2182-2204, August.
    12. Vincenzo Quadrini & Eva de Francisco & Marina Azzimonti, 2011. "Financial globalization and the raising of public debt," 2011 Meeting Papers 575, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Carolina Achury & Christos Koulovatianos & John Tsoukalas, "undated". "External Sovereign Debt in a Monetary Union: Bailouts and the Role of Corruption," Discussion Papers 11/11, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
    14. Agarwal,Sumit & Morais,Bernardo & Ruiz Ortega,Claudia & Zhang,Jian, 2016. "The political economy of bank lending : evidence from an emerging market," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7577, The World Bank.
    15. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Passalacqua, 2015. "The Political Economy of Government Debt," NBER Working Papers 21821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Anastasiia V. Rassadovskaia & Andrey V. Aistov, 2014. "Corruption Perceptions In Russia: Economic Or Social Issue?," HSE Working papers WP BRP 57/EC/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    17. Cunha, Alexandre B. & Ornelas, Emanuel, 2017. "The Limits of Political Compromise: Debt Ceilings and Political Turnover," CEPR Discussion Papers 11945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Marina Azzimonti, 2010. "Political ideology as a source of business cycles," 2010 Meeting Papers 647, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Jesse Schreger, 2016. "Bias in Official Fiscal Forecasts: Can Private Forecasts Help?," NBER Working Papers 22349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. G. Bellettini & P. Roberti, 2016. "Politicians' coherence and government debt," Working Papers wp1087, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    21. Grechyna, Daryna, 2015. "Quantifying the Impact of Political Frictions on Public Policy," MPRA Paper 65266, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Marina Halac & Pierre Yared, 2014. "Fiscal Rules and Discretion Under Persistent Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 1557-1614, September.
    23. Grechyna, Daryna, 2016. "Political frictions and public policy outcomes," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 484-495.
    24. Marina Azzimonti-Renzo & Matthew Talbert, 2011. "Partisan cycles and the consumption volatility puzzle," Working Papers 11-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    25. Marina Azzimonti, 2015. "The dynamics of public investment under persistent electoral advantage," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 653-678, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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