Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A critical look at the CAP and its possible replacements

A number of papers have been produced on the consequences of CAP and the policies that may replace it, but this is one of the better ones. It takes a critical look both at the pathologies of the CAP and the cases that have been put forward for continuing forms of subsidy: Dieter Helm

The paper points out that no other economic sector outside defence has received so much government money. It points out the CAP was the result of a very political deal, reflecting a very particular historical context. The reforms that have taken place addressed some of its deficiencies, but remain sub-optimal.

The paper subjects the three main arguments for subsidy to critical scrutiny: food security; a shift towards environmental subsidies; and public money for public goods. It points out that food security arguments still embody production maximisation. The paper then goes on to consider the key issue of a workable transition.

This is very much an economist's perspective and as a political economist I tend to take a somewhat different perspective. For example, I sometimes think it is necessary to accept a 'satisficing' (in Herbert Simon's terms) rather than an 'optimal' solution. However, I will certainly take its arguments seriously as I prepare my paper for a Welsh Assembly committee public seminar next month.

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