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Listen to the Market, Hear the Best Policy Decision, but Don't Always Choose it

Reinstein, David and Song, Joon (2014) Listen to the Market, Hear the Best Policy Decision, but Don't Always Choose it. Working Paper. University of Essex, Department of Economics, Economics Discussion Papers, Colchester.


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Real-world policymakers want to extract investors private information about a policy's likely effects by listening to "asset markets". However, this brings the risk that investors will profitably "manipulate" prices to steer policy. We model the interaction between a policymaker and an informed (profit-seeking) investor who can buy/short-sell an asset from uniformed traders. We characterize when the investor's incentives do not align with the policymaker's, implying that to induce truth-telling behaviour the policymaker must commit to sometimes ignoring the signal (as revealed by the investor's behaviour driving the asset's price). This implies a commitment to executing the policy with a probability depending on the asset's price. We develop a taxonomy for the full set relationships between private signals, asset values, and policymaker welfare, characterizing the optimal indirect mechanism for each case. We find that where the policymaker is ex-ante indifferent, she commits to sometimes/never executing after a bad signal, but always executes after a good signal. Generically, this "listeneing" mechanism leads to higher (policymaker) welfare then ignoring the signals. We discuss real-world evidence, implications for legislative processes, and phenomena such as "trial balloons" and "committing political capital".

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2014 18:17
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2014 18:17

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