chapter  13
23 Pages

The Chinese mode of rent utilization in comparative perspective


When viewed from the “political” end of the political economy of rent seeking, the creation of rents-that is to say, the the setting of prices at levels above the market clearing price, the allocation of rents, and rent seeking itself-is part of the normal business of politics. Rents and rent seeking are part and parcel of the pursuit of power, part and parcel of the securing of advantage as privilege is exchanged for support. This does not end when power is more secure and composed as “states,” and rents and rent seeking are mobilized as an adjunct to policy-making and implementation and they come to resemble incentives. Insofar as politics is settled and institutionalized, then rent-seeking activities-its habitual companion-will be too. The institutionalization of rent seeking means that this will assume enduring characteristics, persistent patterns that prompt us to speak of modes of rent utilization. These we anticipate will vary from one political economy to another. In fact this is what we have found in our research into rent seeking in Japan and Mexico.1 We postulate that rent seeking is not of a piece but varies from political economy to political economy. The principal determinants of modes of rent utilization and the source of their differences are hypothesized to be the architecture of the state, the dominant mode of social ordering, and the government business relationship.