Electoral and welfare consequences of political manipulation of the economy
This paper examines the long-term electoral and welfare consequences of repeated strategies whereby a political office-holder induces cycles in economic variables to maximize his chances of re-election. Unlike other studies of political business cycles, we focus on questions of the desirability of these cyclical patterns and on the long-run properties of these political economic models. Noting that the welfare costs of vote maximizing in a single term extend beyond that term, we examine in detail the properties of the 'long-run equilibrium path' to which such cycles converge. If the economy starts above this path, vote maximizing can lead to increased social welfare and vote margins. However, if the economy starts below this path, vote-maximizing in the present can cause reduced votes and electocal defeat in subsequent terms. This possibility should lead a far-sighted, enlightened politician or political party to eschew vote-maximizing tactics and the political business cycles which accompany them and thus canhelp explain why empirical studies have not found convincing evidence of the existence of such cycles. This paper also quantifies the dependence of this long-run equilibrium path on the important political and economic parameters of the model. © 1985.
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