A Latin American president faces a steep economic downturn. She introduces fiscal austerity measures, perhaps a tax hike, to try to contain the damage. Mass protests erupt, police clash with demonstrators, and the political mood grows darker by the day. Can the president and her party survive? The short answer is usually no. In a recent study, Martín Ardanaz, Mark Hallerberg … [Read more...] about When Tax Hikes Doom Governments at the Polls
Latin America needs to increase its rate of tax collection. With budgets tight and capital spending meager, the region can't tolerate rates of evasion for personal and corporate income taxes of up to 50% in many countries. Moreover, in a region already very unequal, tax evasion tends to increase inequality. But the challenges of improving tax collection are immense. Apart … [Read more...] about The Pros and Cons of Simplified Tax Notices and Amnesties
Ask anyone in a Western society what makes the world go round, and they are likely to say selfishness, or at least self-interest. It is an idea drilled into us by Thomas Hobbes more than three hundred years ago and by Adam Smith, who argued for the benefits of self-interest in economic progress. It seems more than obvious in our dog-eat-dog world. But psychology and … [Read more...] about Some Economists Say We’re Less Selfish Than We Think. Why?
Economic performance has long been considered key to voter behavior. "It's the economy, stupid," said a campaign strategist for Bill Clinton, cementing a view that a government's economic record is what voters care most about. But too much emphasis on the economy may be missing other, no less consequential, factors. A recent study by George Ward of the Massachusetts … [Read more...] about Does Happiness Sway Elections?
Trust is rare in Latin America, and only getting rarer. Economic and financial mismanagement, corruption scandals, and inequality have taken their toll. According to Latinóbarometro, an annual public opinion survey of 18 countries from the region, trust in government dropped from 45% in 2009 to 22% in 2018, and the share of people who are discontent with democracy soared from … [Read more...] about Can Government Commitments Win Back Citizens’ Trust in Latin America?