Will Free Trade with Political Science Put Normative Economists out of Work?

Bhagwati, Jagdish N.

Telling governments what to do is an ancient and important tradition in economics. Predicting what governments will do, i.e., endogenizing policy, is a newer activity, but one of growing prominence. The two activities appear incompatible: if what governments do is the result somehow of equilibrium behavior of self-interested actors, then advising governments is as senseless an activity as advising monopolists to lower prices or advising the San Andreas fault to be quiet. We show why and how advising can sometimes be a sensible activity, even when we hold sophisticated views about how governments operate.


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Economics and Politics

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January 28, 2013