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

  • Edward L. Glaeser

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18112.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18112
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  1. 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.
  2. 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 1239-59, December.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  4. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," Scholarly Articles 4551797, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Privatization and Incentives," Working papers 572, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
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