Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy
The relationship between political and economic cycles is one of the most widely studied topics in political economics. This book examines how electoral laws, the timing of elections, the ideological orientation of governments, and the nature of competition between political parties influence unemployment, economic growth, inflation, and monetary and fiscal policy. The book presents both a thorough overview of the theoretical literature and a vast amount of empirical evidence.
A common belief is that voters reward incumbents who artificially create favorable conditions before an election, even though the economy may take a turn for the worse immediately thereafter. The authors argue that the dynamics of political cycles are far more complex. In their review of the main theoretical approaches to the issues, they demonstrate the multifaceted relationships between macroeconomic and political policies. They also present a broad range of empirical data, from the United States as well as OECD countries. One of their most striking findings is that the United States is not exceptional; the relationships between political and economic cycles are remarkably similar in other democracies, particularly those with two-party systems.
About the Author
Alberto Alesina is Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economics at Harvard University. He is the coauthor (with Enrico Spolaore) of The Size of Nations (MIT Press, 2003).
—Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, Harvard Institute for InternationalDevelopment; Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, Department of Economics, Harvard University