The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 169–175 | Cite as

The principal difficulty: Besley’s neo-Rousseavian aspirations

  • Michael C. MungerEmail author


The use of the “principal–agent” model makes an implicit assumption about the existence of an underlying global optimum or “general will.” This assumption is debatable, and Besley does not defend it sufficiently or even seem to realize how strong an assumption it is. Still, it is standard in the literature, and Besley’s book is a very strong contribution to that literature. Its two greatest strengths are its solid microfoundations, and its use of the classical “comparative statics” approach to analyze dynamics.


Political economy Public choice Control of politicians 

JEL codes

P16 D72 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Department of EconomicsDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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