NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Tariffs with Private Information and Reputation

Richard A. Jensen, Marie Thursby

NBER Working Paper No. 2959 (Also Reprint No. r1465)
Issued in November 1990
NBER Program(s):   ITI   IFM

When governments choose trade policy, rarely do they have complete information, At the time decisions are made, policy makers have only estimates of market responses, as well as the responses of foreign governments. In many realistic situations, even the policy objectives of other governments may not be known. For example, the balance of constitutional powers in the United States is often cited as a source of confusion as to objectives of U.S. trade policy. In this paper we examine the Bayesian Nash equilibria of several noncooperative tariff games with incomplete information, In the models examined, the home country has private information about whether its government is a low or high tariff type. If the foreign government is uncertain about this type in a one-shot game, its Nash equilibrium tariff will be lower (higher) than if it knew the home government were a low (high) tariff type. In two multistage games, misleading behavior by the home government is shown to be an equilibrium strategy for sufficiently high discount factors. Whether the uncertainty is persistent or can be resolved is shown to be important for welfare results in the multistage setting. In the models examined, tariff rules do not necessarily dominate discretionary policy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2959

Published: Journal of International Economics, Vol. 29, pp. 43-67, (1990).

 
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