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When do export subsidies have a redistributional role? Reply

Holloway, G. (2004) When do export subsidies have a redistributional role? Reply. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 86 (2). pp. 549-552. ISSN 0002-9092

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00599.x


Our differences are three. The first arises from the belief that "... a nonzero value for the optimally chosen policy instrument implies that the instrument is efficient for redistribution" (Alston, Smith, and Vercammen, p. 543, paragraph 3). Consider the two equations: (1) o* = f(P3) and (2) = -f(3) ++r h* (a, P3) representing the solution to the problem of maximizing weighted, Marshallian surplus using, simultaneously, a per-unit border intervention, 9, and a per-unit domestic intervention, wr. In the solution, parameter ot denotes the weight applied to producer surplus; parameter p denotes the weight applied to government revenues; consumer surplus is implicitly weighted one; and the country in question is small in the sense that it is unable to affect world price by any of its domestic adjustments (see the Appendix). Details of the forms of the functions f((P) and h(ot, p) are easily derived, but what matters in the context of Alston, Smith, and Vercammen's Comment is: Redistributivep referencest hatf avorp roducers are consistent with higher values "alpha," and whereas the optimal domestic intervention, 7r*, has both "alpha and beta effects," the optimal border intervention, r*, has only a "beta effect,"-it does not have a redistributional role. Garth Holloway is reader in agricultural economics and statistics, Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, School of Agriculture, Policy, and Development, University of Reading. The author is very grateful to Xavier Irz, Bhavani Shankar, Chittur Srinivasan, Colin Thirtle, and Richard Tiffin for their comments and their wisdom; and to Mario Mazzochi, Marinos Tsigas, and Cal Turvey for their scholarship, including help in tracking down a fairly complete collection of the papers that cite Alston and Hurd. They are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Note, in equation (1), that the border intervention is positive whenever a distortion exists because 8 > 0 implies 3 - 1 + 8 > 1 and, thus, f((P) > 0 (see Appendix). Using Alston, Smith, and Vercammen's definition, the instrument is now "efficient," and therefore has a redistributive role. But now, suppose that the distortion is removed so that 3 - 1 + 8 = 1, 8 = 0, and consequently the border intervention is zero. According to Alston, Smith, and Vercammen, the instrument is now "inefficient" and has no redistributive role. The reader will note that this thought experiment has said nothing about supporting farm incomes, and so has nothing whatsoever to do with efficient redistribution. Of course, the definition is false. It follows that a domestic distortion arising from the "excess-burden argument" 3 = 1 + 8, 8 > 0 does not make an export subsidy "efficient." The export subsidy, having only a "beta effect," does not have a redistributional role. The second disagreement emerges from the comment that Holloway "... uses an idiosyncratic definition of the relevant objective function of the government (Alston, Smith, and Vercammen, p. 543, paragraph 2)." The objective function that generates equations (1) and (2) (see the Appendix) is the same as the objective function used by Gardner (1995) when he first questioned Alston, Carter, and Smith's claim that a "domestic distortion can make a border intervention efficient in transferring surplus from consumers and taxpayers to farmers." The objective function used by Gardner (1995) is the same objective function used in the contributions that precede it and thus defines the literature on the debate about borderversus- domestic intervention (Streeten; Yeh; Paarlberg 1984, 1985; Orden; Gardner 1985). The objective function in the latter literature is the same as the one implied in another literature that originates from Wallace and includes most notably Gardner (1983), but also Alston and Hurd. Amer. J. Agr. Econ. 86(2) (May 2004): 549-552 Copyright 2004 American Agricultural Economics Association This content downloaded on Tue, 15 Jan 2013 07:58:41 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 550 May 2004 Amer. J. Agr. Econ. The objective function in Holloway is this same objective function-it is, of course, Marshallian surplus.1 The third disagreement concerns scholarship. The Comment does not seem to be cognizant of several important papers, especially Bhagwati and Ramaswami, and Bhagwati, both of which precede Corden (1974, 1997); but also Lipsey and Lancaster, and Moschini and Sckokai; one important aspect of Alston and Hurd; and one extremely important result in Holloway. This oversight has some unfortunate repercussions. First, it misdirects to the wrong origins of intellectual property. Second, it misleads about the appropriateness of some welfare calculations. Third, it prevents Alston, Smith, and Vercammen from linking a finding in Holloway (pp. 242-43) with an old theorem (Lipsey and Lancaster) that settles the controversy (Alston, Carter, and Smith 1993, 1995; Gardner 1995; and, presently, Alston, Smith, and Vercammen) about the efficiency of border intervention in the presence of domestic distortions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:30569
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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