Abstract: I study the effect of disclosing the private interests of decision makers on the quality of the decisions that are eventually taken. I focus on a delegation relationship where decision makers motivated by career concerns try to build up their own reputation. When private interests of decision makers are not disclosed, taking the correct decision is the only way to increase reputation and the higher the career concerns the more likely it is that correct decisions are taken. When private interests are disclosed, decisions not aligned with these private interests may also increase reputation. I find that, contrary to the common wisdom, disclosure of private interests can induce worse decisions. This happens when the salience of career concerns relative to the one of the private interests is high enough and decision makers are poorly informed.

Abstract: I analyse how voters optimally aggregate and use information provided by informed experts. I find that, when citizens do not observe the vested interest of each expert and their interests are sufficiently correlated, the relationship between the share of experts endorsing an alternative and the share of citizens voting for it is non-monotonic. The explanation is that consensus among experts can be reached either because all experts share the same information or because experts ignore the information they have and provide their advice according to their own interests. The non-monotonic result holds even if experts are strategic.

Fake News, Media Competition and Political Accountability (joint with Giovanni Andreottola (Yale/CSEF)) 

Abstract: We present a model of a media market in which a set of news outlets compete to break a news. In our model, each media receives some information on whether a politician in office is corrupt. Media outlets can decide whether to break the story immediately or wait and fact-check, taking into account that if another media breaks the news, the profit opportunity disappears. We show that as the number of competitors increases, each outlet becomes more likely to break the news without fact-checking. Therefore, as the number of media increases, the incumbent politician is more likely to be accused of corruption by the media: this makes the re-election of incumbents more difficult and increases political turnover.  In particular, we show that if voters consult with higher priority the media outlets that report about a scandal, increasing the number of competitors decreases the probability of having an honest politician in office.


What the fact? A survey experiment on post-truth politics (joint with Berta Barbet (UAB) and Guillem Vidal (EUI)) (you can find the preliminary results here)

Abstract: One of the major concerns about the democratic system is how citizens get and assess the quality of the arguments they receive form experts and other political figures in order to decide their vote. These concerns have been aggravated during the Brexit Referendum and the US 2016 Presidential Elections. We conduct a survey experiment to test whether adding empirical, emotional and normative cues to support an argument increases its persuasiveness.

Jobs lost, votes lost? Labour demand shocks and electoral accountability (joint with Elena Costas (UAB & GSE) and María Sánchez-Vidal (CEP/SERC LSE & IEB)) 

Abstract:  The aim of this paper is to analyze the effects of plant closures on electoral outcomes. We provide a political economy argument for (inefficient) subsidies targeted to individual firms. In particular, given that plant openings and closings are linked to the political business cycle (Bertrand et al., 2006), politically connected companies may tend to destroy fewer jobs in election years. In order to assess this mechanism, we make use of the Spanish institutional context, where plant closures and collective layoffs should be approved by local governments. Even partial closures may have short-term effects into the local economy, so political parties may have electoral incentives to avoid them. Specifically, we build up a model of the political economy of taxation and we run differences-in-differences specifications in which locations that experience a plant closure before the elections are matched to locations where the closure happened after the elections.