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The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina
A Transactions Cost Approach

$40.99 (C)

Part of Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions

  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521145787

$ 40.99 (C)

Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
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About the Authors
  • The authors have two purposes in this book, and they succeed admirably at both. They develop a general model of public policy making focused on the difficulties of securing intertemporal exchanges among politicians. They combine the tools of game theory with Williamson's transaction cost theory, North's institutional arguments, and contract theory to provide a general theory of public policy making in a comparative political economy setting. They also undertake a detailed study of Argentina, using statistical analyses on newly developed data to complement their nuanced account of institutions, rules, incentives and outcomes. Mariano Tommasi (Ph.D. in Economics, University of Chicago, 1991) is Professor of Economics at Universidad de San Andres in Argentina. He is past President (2004–2005) of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association. He has published articles in journals such as American Economic Review; American Journal of Political Science; American Political Science Review; Journal of Development Economic; Journal of Monetary Economics; International Economic Review; Economics and Politics; Journal of Law, Economics and Organization; Journal of Public Economic Theory; Journal of International Economics; and the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics. He has held visiting positions in Economics, Business, and Political Science at Yale, Harvard, UCLA, Tel Aviv, and various Latin American universities. He has received various fellowships and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. He has been an advisor to several Latin American governments and to international organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

    • Explains how to develop transaction cost models and apply them in a way that expands the understanding of a particular case or cases
    • One of the few books by economists that takes politics seriously and actually understands political processes; it is a true work of political economy
    • A methodological primer of how to develop a general model and then apply it well
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Spiller and Tommasi mobilize formal models and rigorous reasoning to probe the depth of the ongoing crises -- both political and economic -- in Argentina. In doing so, they move the goal posts in the field of comparative politics."
    Robert H. Bates, Harvard University

    "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina is a fascinating and innovative contribution to contemporary political economy. It recommends shifting focus from the long-term structural factors to an analysis of whether the struggle for power and the structure of political institutions encourage public officials to invest in stable, flexible, and public-regarding policies. Pablo Spiller and Mariano Tommasi provide theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich studies of why Congress, the Supreme Court, the bureaucracy and federalism in Argentina—a country rich with development potential—are unable to produce and stick by effective public policies. The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina is a major achievement, one that will be indispensable for students of political economy, public policy, and development studies."
    Fabrice Lehoucq, Centro de Investigaciones y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City

    "Noted economists Pablo Spiller and Mariano Tommasi offer a persuasive explanation of one of the most pressing issues for development. They account for the variation in the promotion of policies that serve the long-term interest of the polity and not just the short-term electoral and monetary interests of the policy-makers. This is political economy at its best. The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina uses the most analytically sophisticated tools available in the service of understanding an important case. But this is far more than a single case study. Theirs is a general framework that represents a major contribution to the theory of political and economic development."
    Margaret Levi, University of Washington

    "Nothing like this study exists for any other country. Relying on positive political theory, this book is the first systematic approach to an integrated study of public policymaking. Spiller and Tommasi apply their approach to Argentina, showing why its political and economic institutions emphasize short-term time horizons that hinder cooperation and long-term solutions to major economic problems. Although Argentine political institutions have many of the features of the American separation of powers system, Spiller and Tommasi explain why these institutions work systematically differently in Argentina than the United States."
    Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University

    "Pablo Spiller and Mariano Tommasi's book on The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina Argentina has been in progress for eight years and is worth the waiting. The authors combine an interdisciplinary framework (in which transaction cost analysis, the theory of repeated games, and positive political theory are joined) with deep “archeological” knowledge of the workings of politics and policymaking in Argentina. Both parts of this project are ambitious. Both parts complement the other. Students of economic organization who are persuaded of the need for a focused lens to study the governance of contractual relations will not be surprised that a similar strategy is useful for studying complex political organization. The action in both arenas, moreover, resides in the microanalytics. But there is also much more. Contractual politics involves more players and is more difficult than contractual economics; and acquiring the requisite microanalytic knowledge of the phenomena in question is more demanding. The authors have persevered in the face of these difficulties with the result that readers are in for a challenge and a treat. Our understanding of the institutional foundations of public policy in Argentina and more generally have been deepened and transformed in conceptual, theoretical, public policy, and empirical respects. "
    Oliver E. Williamson, University of California, Berkeley

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521145787
    • length: 254 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. An Intertemporal Approach to Policymaking:
    1. Sketch of the framework and implications
    2. A theory of intertemporal political cooperation
    Part II. The Workings of Political Institutions, Policymaking, and Policies in Argentina:
    3. Congress, political careers, and the provincial connection
    4. Federalism, Argentine style
    5. The Supreme Court
    6. The bureaucracy
    7. The nature of public policies in Argentina.

  • Authors

    Pablo T. Spiller, University of California, Berkeley
    Pablo T. Spiller (Ph.D. in Economics, University of Chicago, 1980) is the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor of Business & Technology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Research Associate, NBER. He has held academic positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign. He has published several books and more than ninety articles in the general area of political economy and industrial organization. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Economics, The Regulation Magazine and of The Utilities Project. He has been a Special Advisor to the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Economics, and was also an elected Member of the Board of Directors of the American Law & Economics Association.

    Mariano Tommasi, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Mariano Tommasi (Ph.D. in Economics, University of Chicago, 1991) is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Economics at Universidad de San Andres and Director of the Center of Studies for Institutional Development, both in Argentina. Tommasi is President (2004-2005) of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association. He has published several books and articles, in journals such as American Economic Review, American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, International Economic Review, Economics and Politics, and the Journal of Policy Reform among others. He has held visiting positions in the Departments of Economics and Political Science at Yale University, the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship of Latin American Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, the Ben Nathan Chair of Economics at Tel Aviv University, and a Visiting Professorship at the University of California - Los Angeles. He has been an advisor to several Latin American governments, and to international organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

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