IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Political models of macroeconomic policy and fiscal reform

  • Alesina, Alberto

The author explains how recent developments in political economics improve our understanding of macroeconomic policy - especially the timing, design, and likelihood of stabilization's success through monetary and fiscal reform. The author reviews the literature on political business cycles and emphasizes several issues involving the relationship between the timing of elections and the timing of macroeconomic policies and outcomes. He also addresses how models can be useful in studying non-democratic systems. Two forces are crucial factors in both democratic and dictatorial systems, although they may manifest themselves differently: (1) the policymakers'incentive to retain power; and (2) society's polarization and the degree of social conflict. The author then analyzes why economic stabilization is delayed, even when it is obvious that sooner or later a stabilization program will have to be adopted. Some points made in the paper follow. Certain institutional characteristics make quick and successful stabilization more or less likely. The more unequal the distribution of stabilization's costs, the more likely that stabilization will be delayed. An increase in the cost of postponing stabilization reduces the delay. Political institutions that make it easier for small interest groups to veto legislation make delay more likely. If political and economic resources are unequally distributed, and it is obvious which group is stronger and has resources to wait longer, a war of attrition ends immediately, as there is no uncertainty about who will win it. Delay is more likely when information about who will bear the cost of delays is uncertain or unevenly distributed. Delay is also more likely when there is agreement about the need for fiscal change but a political stalemate about distribution - about how the burden of higher taxes or spending cuts should be allocated. Stabilization usually occurs when there is political consolidation. The burden of stabilization is sometimes unequal, with the politically weaker group (often the lower classes) bearing a larger burden (often regressive measures). If it is in the interest of the current government to do nothing for fear of failure because of government incompetence, the public may have no incentive to vote for the opposition because the opposition may also do nothing; the crucial factor here is how aware the government is of its own incompetence and thus its reasons for not attempting reform. Successful stabilization usually comes after several failed attempts, and the successful program is often very much like one that failed.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1992/09/01/000009265_3961003095320/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 970.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 30 Sep 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:970
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "Can Small Deviations from Rationality Make Significant Differences to Economic Equilibria?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 708-20, September.
  2. J. Bradford De Long & Barry Eichengreen, 1993. "The Marshall Plan: History's Most Successful Structural Adjustment Programme," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _109, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Sule Ozler & Nouriel Roubini & Phillip Swagel, 1992. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sule Ozler & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "External Debt and Political Instability," NBER Working Papers 3772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & Roubini, Nouriel, 1990. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Vittorio Grilli, 1991. "The European Central Bank: Reshaping Monetary Politics in Europe," NBER Working Papers 3860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1989. "Government Spending and Budget Deficits in the Industrial Economies," NBER Working Papers 2919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-88, December.
  11. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  12. 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.
  13. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-62, May.
  14. Loewy, Michael B, 1988. "Reaganomics and Reputation Revisited," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 253-63, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:970. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.