Exporting Ideology: The Right and Left of Foreign Influence
We present an economic rationale for countries resorting to foreign influence to export their ideology to other nations. Our model incorporates two fundamental elements: redistribution of the tax burden between capital owners and workers, and international capital mobility. The model highlights the role of ideology in shaping both the taxes implemented by governments and the cross-border externalities of these policy choices. Pro-capital governments set lower capital taxes than pro-labor governments. Importantly, pro-capital governments benefit from other countries setting low capital taxes, while pro-labor governments' efforts to shift the tax burden onto capital owners are facilitated by higher capital taxes abroad. These cross-border externalities create strong incentives for engaging in foreign influence activities. We solve for a political equilibrium in which incumbent governments may exert costly actions that probabilistically affect the electoral outcome in other countries. In equilibrium, pro-capital parties exert influence aimed at promoting pro-capital parties and policies worldwide, while pro-labor governments carry out foreign influence activities aimed at boosting pro-labor parties and policies in other countries.