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Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles

  • Kenneth Rogoff
  • Anne Sibert

There is an extensive empirical literature on political business cycles, but its theoretical foundations are grounded in pre-rational expectations macroeconomic theory. Here we show that electoral cycles in taxes, government spending and money growth can be modeled as an equilibrium signaling process. The cycleis driven by temporary information asymmetries which can arise if, for example,the government has more current information on its performance in providing for national defense. Incumbents cheat least when their private informationis either extremely favorable or extremely unfavorable. An exogenous increase in the incumbent partyts popularity does not necessarily imply a damped policy cycle.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1838.

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Date of creation: Feb 1986
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Rogoff, Kenneth and Anne Sibert. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles." From Review of Economic Studies, Vol. LV (55), No. 181, pp. 1-16, January 1988.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1838
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  1. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Canzoneri, Matthew B, 1985. "Monetary Policy Games and the Role of Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1056-70, December.
  3. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Positive Theory of Discretionary Policy, the Cost of Democratic Government and the Benefits of a Constitution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(3), pages 367-88, July.
  5. Friedman, James W, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(113), pages 1-12, January.
  6. Stigler, George J, 1973. "General Economic Conditions and National Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 160-67, May.
  7. D. Backus & J. Driffil, 1998. "Inflation and Reputation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625, David K. Levine.
  8. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1998. "Limit Pricing and Entry Under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis," Levine's Working Paper Archive 245, David K. Levine.
  9. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  10. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  12. Edward J Green & Robert H Porter, 1997. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1147, David K. Levine.
  13. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  14. Radner, Roy, 1985. "Repeated Principal-Agent Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(5), pages 1173-98, September.
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