May, 2013

Tax Prices in a Democratic Polity: The Continuing Relevance of Antonio de Viti de Marco

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Giuseppe Eusepi

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While Antonio de Viti de Marco was a significant figure within the Italian school of public finance that flourished between 1880 and 1940, his theoretical framework also has relevance today. Contemporary theory largely adopts a sequential framework where states act to modify previously established market outcomes. In contrast, de Viti worked with a framework where political and market outcomes were established simultaneously because he regarded the state as an essential productive factor within society. At the same time, however, de Viti did not treat state activity as a particular form of market activity. While he extended the logic of market exchange to state activity, he recognized the need to theorize in light of significant differences in institutional arrangements between markets and states. Collective action was guided by tax prices and not market prices. De Viti’s formulation of tax prices demonstrates in turn the important place of constitutional arrangements in his theory of public finance.

Read the article on History of Political Economy