In this paper, we build a model of the transition following large-scale economic reforms that predicts both a substantial drop in output and a prolonged pause in physical investment as the initial phase of the optimal transition following the reform. We model reform as a change in policy which induces agents to close existing enterprises using old technologies of production and to open up new enterprises adopting new technologies of production. The central idea of our paper is that it is costly to close old enterprises and open new enterprises because, in doing so, information capital built up about old enterprises is lost and time must pass before information capital about new enterprises can be acquired. Thus, an acceleration of the pace of industry evolution leads in the short run to a net loss of information capital, a drop in productivity, a recession, and a fall in physical investment. We calibrate our model of industry evolution, information capital, and transition to match micro data on industry evolution in the United States and macro data from the United States, Japan, and the former communist countries of Europe. We find that the loss of information capital that accompanies a major acceleration in the pace of industry evolution in an economy leads initially to a decade of recession and a five year pause in physical investment before the benefits of reform are realized.
In this paper we analyze the constraints imposed by dynamic consistency in a model of optimal taxation. We assume that only distorting taxes are available to finance government consumption. Optimal fiscal policy requires the use of debt to smooth distortions over time. Dynamic consistency requires that governments at each point in time not have an incentive to default on the inherited debt. We consider policy functions which map the history of the economy including the actions of past governments into current decisions. A sustainable plan is a sequence of history-contingent policies which are optimal at each date given that future policies will be selected according to the plan. We show that if agents discount the future sufficiently little and if government consumption fluctuates then optimal sustainable plans yield policies and allocations which are identical to those under full commitment. We contrast our notion of dynamic consistency with other definitions.