chapter  1
25 Pages

Acquiescence to Opacity

ByPierre Salmon, Alain Wolfelsperger

Opacity may affect both the means used to implement policies and the real objectives that they pursue. Our concern with opacity is limited to the cases when it is the result of obfuscation. that is, of some effort on the part of governments or other public bodies (central banks or international organisations) to hide or misrepresent their choices. In the literature concerned with accounting for inefficient policies, there are now models in which opacity plays no significant role. This chapter provides a number of mechanisms that account for or lead to the phenomenon the authors are interested in, that is, voters preferring a policy to be opaque rather than transparent. It then discusses two policies (law enforcement and price support in agriculture) in which opacity plays an essential role, albeit in a different way. Transparency implies information equally available to everybody. Providing safety to persons and to their belongings lias always been one of the main responsibilities of the state.