This paper identifies eight political economy factors that influenced governments' policy choices during the most recent global food price crisis. To explain the variety of responses and the policy failures, a framework is proposed that locates policies along the twin dimensions of unitary vs. fragmented decision-making processes and social welfare maximizing vs. self-interested policy goals. Policies are favoured that maintain government legitimacy and produce private benefits for the best-connected stakeholders. Policy interventions were frequently ad hoc and delayed because of lack of market information, conflicts among fragmented government agencies in all governments, and extended deliberations among competing stakeholder groups.
political economy food prices public choice rent-seeking