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On the dynamic inefficiency of governments

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  • Marina Azzimonti Renzo

Abstract

When the government must decide not only on road public-policy programs (like investment in infrastructure) but also on the provision of group-specific public goods (like regional transfers or subsidies), dynamic strategic inefficiencies arise. I present a model where the struggle between opposing groups -they disagree on the composition of expenditures and compete for government office- results in governments being endogenously short-sighted. As a result, there is a systematic under-investment in infrastructure and overspending on public goods. This results from resources being more valuable when in power than when out of power. Which group wins government office depends on explicitly modeled election outcomes that are functions of economic as well as (exogenous) political preferences of the citizens. I show how different characteristics of the groups involved in the political conflict affect the economy. In particular, I find that more ideologically homogeneous societies have higher capital accumulation and more efficient allocations since there is a greater incumbency advantage. I also find that when there is an average advantage for one group over the other in the political dimension, this group has incentives to act differently in office, even though both groups have the same basic preferences regarding the size of public spending (though not regarding its composition) and the level of investment. The group that loses the elections more often tends to spend a higher share of output on public goods while investing even less than the other group (when in office). This creates economic cycles -that follow the political cycle- introducing fluctuations in real macroeconomic variables without assuming any exogenous productivity shocks

Suggested Citation

  • Marina Azzimonti Renzo, 2004. "On the dynamic inefficiency of governments," 2004 Meeting Papers 228, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:228
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policymaking: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 118-149, March.
    2. D'Amato, Marcello & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2010. "Political intergenerational risk sharing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 628-637, October.
    3. Jinhui H. Bai & Roger Lagunoff, 2011. "On the Faustian Dynamics of Policy and Political Power," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 17-48.
    4. Zheng Song, 2011. "The Dynamics of Inequality and Social Security in General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 613-635, October.
    5. Fusako Tsuchimoto, 2009. "A Theory of Ethnic Diversity and Income Distribution," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp395, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    6. Marco Bassetto, 2008. "Public investment and budget rules for state vs. local governments," Working Paper Series WP-08-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    7. Pascal Gautier & Raphael Soubeyran, 2005. "Political Cycles : The Opposition Advantage," Working Papers 2005.129, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2012. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico‐Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2785-2803, November.
    9. Song, Zheng, 2008. "Persistent Ideology and the Determination of Public Policies over Time," MPRA Paper 10364, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Ricardo Nunes & Davide Debortoli, 2007. "Political Disagreement, Lack of Commitment and the Level of Debt," 2007 Meeting Papers 725, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "A theory of political cycles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1166-1186, May.
    12. Marco Bassetto, 2009. "The Research Agenda: Marco Bassetto on the Quantitative Evaluation of Fiscal Policy Rules," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(2), April.
    13. Marco Battaglini & Thomas Palfrey, 2012. "The dynamics of distributive politics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(3), pages 739-777, April.
    14. Cuadra, Gabriel & Sapriza, Horacio, 2008. "Sovereign default, interest rates and political uncertainty in emerging markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 78-88, September.
    15. Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Leonardo Martinez & Horacio Sapriza, 2006. "Sovereign default risk with heterogenous borrowers," 2006 Meeting Papers 845, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Hassler, John & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2007. "Democratic public good provision," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 127-151, March.
    17. Raphaël Soubeyran & Pascal Gautier, 2008. "Political Cycles: Issue Ownership and the Opposition Advantage," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 685-716, August.
    18. Marco Bassetto, 2006. "Politics and Efficiency of Separating Capital and Ordinary Government Budgets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1167-1210.
    19. Sleet, Christopher & Yeltekin, Sevin, 2008. "Politically credible social insurance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 129-151, January.
    20. Roel M.W.J. Beetsma & Frederick van der Ploeg, 2007. "Partisan Public Investment and Debt: The Case for Fiscal Restrictions," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/37, European University Institute.
    21. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
    22. Malte Rieth, 2017. "Capital Taxation and Government Debt Policy with Public Discounting," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1697, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    23. Leonardo Martinez, 2009. "Why could political incentives be different during election times?," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 315-334.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Investment; Commitment; Probabilistic Voting; Markov Equilibrium; Political Cycles; Time-consistency;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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