Reexamining the Leviathan

The aim of this conference is to examine the determinants of a wide range of government policies from a positive and a normative perspective, relying on the tools of dynamic contracting and mechanism design.  The political economy segment of the conference uses these new tools to analyze a variety of important long-standing questions.  What is the link between political polarization and growth?  How does lack of commitment influence the emergence of war?  How does competition between different tax authorities influence redistribution?  How do fiscal constitutions shape taxation over the business cycle?   The remainder of the conference uses the same tools to explore the design of optimal tax and social insurance systems.  How should the government set capital and asset taxes when faced with endogenous constraints on fiscal instruments or trading arrangements?  What role do incentive problems play in the design of social security? What are the quantitative impacts of private information on optimal income taxation? What are the properties of robust optimal social insurance systems?  Taken together, these contributions will shape the new frontier in the literature on dynamic political economy and optimal taxation.