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Markets Versus Governments: Political Economy of Mechanisms

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Michael Golosov

    () (Department of Economics MIT)

  • Oleg Tsyvinski

Abstract

We study the optimal Mirrlees taxation problem in a dynamic economy with idiosyncratic (productivity or preference) shocks. In contrast to the standard approach, which implicitly assumes that the mechanism is operated by a benevolent planner with full commitment power, we assume that any centralized mechanism can only be operated by a self-interested ruler/government without commitment power, who can therefore misuse the resources and the information it collects. An important result of our analysis is that there will be truthful revelation along the equilibrium path, which shows that truth-telling mechanisms can be used despite the commitment problems and the different interests of the government and the citizens. Using this tool, we show that if the government is as patient as the agents, the best sustainable mechanism leads to an asymptotic allocation where the aggregate distortions arising from political economy disappear. In contrast, when the government is less patient than the citizens, there are positive aggregate distortions and positive aggregate capital taxes even asymptotically. Under some additional assumptions on preferences, these results generalize to the case when the government is benevolent but unable to commit to future tax policies. We conclude by providing a brief comparison of centralized mechanisms operated by self-interested rulers to anonymous markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Michael Golosov & Oleg Tsyvinski, 2006. "Markets Versus Governments: Political Economy of Mechanisms," 2006 Meeting Papers 348, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:348
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-236, March.
    3. Catarina Reis, 2013. "Taxation without commitment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(2), pages 565-588, March.
    4. Alexander Karaivanov & Fernando Martin, 2015. "Dynamic Optimal Insurance and Lack of Commitment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 287-305, April.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Michael Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2008. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 619-641, May.
    6. Christopher Sleet & Sevin Yeltekin, 2006. "Credibility and endogenous societal discounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(3), pages 410-437, July.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 2013. "When Ideas Trump Interests : Preferences, World Views, and Policy  Innovations," Working Papers id:5558, eSocialSciences.
    8. Jenny Simon, 2014. "Imperfect Financial Markets as a Commitment Device for the Government," CESifo Working Paper Series 4902, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dynamic incentive problems; mechanism design; optimal taxation; political economy; revelation principle.;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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