NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Suk Jae Noh

E-Mail: sjnoh@sun.hallym.ac.kr

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 1988Proprietary Public Finance, Political Competition, and Reputation
with Herschel I. Grossman: w2696
Although tax policy in most historical cases has been barely distinguishable from legalized theft, why have tax and spending policies in a few unusually fortunate communities, such as some of the modern democracies, apparently been, if not welfare maximizing, at least relatively benevolent? We address this question within a general positive analysis of tax and spending policy that focuses on the effects of political competition and its interaction with other constraints on policy choices, especially the constraint that equilibrium policies must be time consistent. The framework for this analysis is a theory of a proprietary fiscal authority whose objective is to extract rents for the political establishment, the proprietor of sovereign power. The analysis shows that, if the political syste...

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