By Alan Verne Deardorff, Robert Mitchell Stern
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Extra resources for Constituent Interests and U.S. Trade Policies
E°rtdemand Political contri- Grossman- Politicians: to maxi- Single incumbent number of peobutions approach Helpman mize objective func- chooses policy to pie in industry (1994) tion defined on con- maximize contribuweight attached tributions and weltions and economic to welfare fare. welfare. Industry + size of sector (specific factor) lobelasticity of imbyists offer optimal port demand contributions contingent on Eolicies. Source: Adapted from Rodrik (1995) and HeJpman (1995). - - - fortunately, if factors are narrowly owned while consumer interests are broad, this approach predicts counter-factually that tariffs will be nonexistent, or even negative.
Are there reasons why various interest groups themselves may be successfully thwarting such efforts? We do not know the answer, but in the end it may be necessary for political economy models of trade policy to include within them the activities of those who build them. Introduction 27 The foregoing list by no means exhausts all of the issues that deserve more attention. It includes only some of the most interesting, and sometimes troubling, issues that arose in our own minds during the conference and during our reading of the conference proceedings.
Most obviously, basing payments on observed income will induce both payers and recipients to deliberately earn less income, so as to alter the payments in their favor. Therefore the prescription of using a first best policy for redistributing income is not helpful. In the field of public finance, there is a large literature dealing accordingly with "optimal taxation," attempting to identify how best to use the necessarily distorting tax policy tools that are available. In the field of international trade, the issue of income distribution has been dealt with primarily by arguing that, in this case, trade policies are not even second best.