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A Simple Model of the Commercial Lobbying Industry

  • Groll, Thomas
  • Ellis, Christopher J.

In this paper we present a model of the behavior of commercial lobbying firms (such as the so-called K-Street lobbyists of Washington, D.C.). In contrast to classical special interest groups, commercial lobbying firms represent a variety of clients and are not directly affected by policy outcomes. They are hired by citizens, or groups of citizens, to advocate on their behalf to policymakers. In our analysis we address two basic questions; why do commercial lobbying firms exist, and what are the implications of their existence for social welfare? We answer the first part of this question by proposing that commercial lobbying firms possess a verification technology that allows them to improve the quality of information concerning the social desirability of policy proposals. This gives policymakers the incentive to allocate their scarce time to lobbying firms. Essentially it is this access to policymakers that lobbying firms sell to their clients. To address the question of social welfare we construct a simple general equilibrium model that includes commercial lobbying firms, and compare the equilibrium obtained under market provision of lobbying services to the first best optimum. We find that the market level of lobbying services can be socially either too large or too small, and characterize when each will be the case.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 36168.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36168
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  1. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Sanford Grossman & Oliver Hart, . "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 15-80, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mirko Draca & Christian Fons-Rosen, 2010. "Revolving Door Lobbyists," CEP Discussion Papers dp0993, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Morten Bennedsen & Sven E. Feldmann, 2000. "Lobbying Legislatures," CIE Discussion Papers 2000-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  5. Thomas Groll & Christopher J. Ellis, 2013. "A Simple Model of the Commercial Lobbying Industry," CESifo Working Paper Series 4110, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Matilde Bombardini & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Is It Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3885-3920, December.
  7. Bennedsen, Morten & Feldmann, Sven E., 2002. "Lobbying and Legislative Organization The Effect of the Vote of Confidence Procedure," Working Papers 01-2002, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  8. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1985. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 749, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 831-842, August.
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  11. Bennedsen, Morten & Feldmann, Sven E., 2006. "Informational lobbying and political contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 631-656, May.
  12. Matthias Dahm & Nicolás Porteiro, 2008. "Informational lobbying under the shadow of political pressure," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 531-559, May.
  13. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mirko Draca & Christian Fons-Rosen, 2012. "Revolving Door Lobbyists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3731-48, December.
  14. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  15. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Politics of Government Decision-Making: A Theory of Regulatory Capture," Working papers 506, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  18. Austen-Smith, David, 1994. "Strategic Transmission of Costly Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 955-63, July.
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:2:p:747-775 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Lohmann, Susanne, 1995. " Information, Access, and Contributions: A Signaling Model of Lobbying," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(3-4), pages 267-84, December.
  21. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  22. repec:oup:restud:v:68:y:2001:i:1:p:67-82 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Thomas Groll & Christopher J. Ellis, 2013. "Dynamic Commercial Lobbying," CESifo Working Paper Series 4114, CESifo Group Munich.
  24. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  25. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2007. "Collusion and the organization of delegated expertise," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 271-299, November.
  26. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 1992. " Lobbying and Asymmetric Information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 269-92, October.
  27. repec:oup:qjecon:v:101:y:1986:i:1:p:1-31 is not listed on IDEAS
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