Reelection, growth and public debt
, 101889. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this work we examine how economic growth affects public debt when interacted with reelection prospects. Reelection considerations shorten political time horizons and give rise to political myopia that exacerbates debt accumulation. That laxer institutional reelection restrictions (e.g., no term limits) mitigate this effect due to electoral accountability is well known. Incorporating growth, we find that this mitigation can be reversed because less myopic, and more accountable, incumbents put more emphasis on smoothing the effects of growth across generations. We test these predictions using an annual-based panel of U.S. states over the period 1963–2010. Our identification strategy rests on constitutionally-entrenched differences in gubernatorial term limits that provide plausibly exogenous variation in reelection prospects, and aggregate national TFP shocks that are exogenous to individual states. Our estimates indicate that when reelection is possible a one standard deviation positive income shock induces, within the same year, a relative increase of approximately $40 in real per capita public debt.
Optimal water pricing: Accounting for environmental externalities
. Ecological Economics 2020
, 106429. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A pricing-based mechanism that implements the optimal water policy while accounting for environmental externalities is developed. The analysis is presented in the context of a comprehensive water economy, stressing the tradeoffs between water use in the provision of ecosystem services vs. other uses. A distinction is made between conveyed and instream environmental water, which turns out to have important policy implications. It is shown that the allocation of instream water can be implemented by properly incorporating the (marginal) instream value of water within the shadow (in situ) price of natural water. The regulation of conveyed environmental water requires a quota-price combination. An example based on Israel's water economy is presented.
Resource windfalls and public debt: A political economy perspective
. European Economic Review 2020
, 103371. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Can natural resource windfalls increase public debt in democracies? Adopting a political economy perspective, we show that the answer is in the affirmative. Resource windfalls increase both the government’s income and wealth. The former mitigates the need to borrow, whereas the latter encourages further borrowing (as it improves its terms), implying an ambiguous pure effect of resource windfalls on debt. Re-election considerations shorten political time horizons and give rise to political myopia. We show that higher political myopia, induced by more stringent (institutional) re-election restrictions, magnifies the wealth effect, turning positive the effect of resource windfalls on debt. We test the model’s predictions using a panel of U.S. states over the period 1963-2007. Our identification strategy rests on constitutionally-entrenched differences in gubernatorial term limits that provide plausibly exogenous variation in re-election prospects, and geographically-based cross-state differences in natural endowments. Our baseline estimates indicate that a resource windfall of $1 induces an increase of approximately ¢20 in the public debt of states with more stringent re-election restrictions.