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The Political Risks of Fighting Market Failures: Subversion, Populism and the Government Sponsored Enterprises

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  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

There are many possible ways of reforming the Government-Sponsored Enterprises that insure mortgages against default, including a purely public option, complete privatization or a hybrid model with private firms and public catastrophic insurance. If the government is sufficiently capable and benign, either public intervention can yield desirable outcomes; the key risks of any reform come from the political process. This paper examines the political risks, related to corruption and populism, of differing approaches to the problems of monopoly, externalities and market breakdowns in asset insurance. If there is a high probability that political leadership will be induced to pursue policies that maximize the profitability of private entities at the expense of taxpayers, then purely public options create lower social losses. If there is a high probability that leaders will pursue a populist agenda of lowering prices or borrowing costs, then catastrophic risk insurance can lead to lower social losses than either complete laissez-faire of a pure public option.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2012. "The Political Risks of Fighting Market Failures: Subversion, Populism and the Government Sponsored Enterprises," NBER Working Papers 18112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18112
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18112.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-19, April.
    4. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    5. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    6. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Privatization and Incentives," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 84-105, Special I.
    7. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kallal, Hedi D., 1997. "Thin Markets, Asymmetric Information, and Mortgage-Backed Securities," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 64-86, January.
    8. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    9. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
    10. Pashigian, B Peter, 1976. "Consequences and Causes of Public Ownership of Urban Transit Facilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1239-1259, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marta Curto‐Grau & Albert Solé‐Ollé & Pilar Sorribas‐Navarro, 2017. "Does electoral competition curb party favoritism?," Working Papers 2017/04, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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