This paper considers the generalised second-best analytics of optimal restructuring under a political constraint, building on the modelling approach in Dehejia (1997, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 1552, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, January 1997). It is shown that the second-best optimum entails administering the terms-of-trade shock fully at the initiation of the reform, just as in shock therapy, but that this must be supplemented with interventions in domestic factor markets. The effects of these interventions are to speed up the exit of the politically affected factor, labour, and to retard the exit of the other factor, capital, both of which serve to prop-up the wages of workers in the declining sector and hence address the political constraint. The results are in the spirit of the neoclassical theory of distortions and welfare: the optimal intervention targets the affected margin directly, in consonance with the 'targeting' principle of Bhagwati-Ramaswami-Johnson.

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Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control
Department of Economics

Dehejia, V. (2001). Optimal restructuring under a political constraint. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 25(12), 1989–2006. doi:10.1016/S0165-1889(00)00016-6