AMLO's recent policies and signaling


A lot discussion has been flowing around about elected president AMLO and his recent decisions. I will try to adapt his recent actions to the Signaling Model of Gift Giving seen on class.

I’ll allow myself to quote Professor Pancs:

“The good, a gift, is worthless to the recipient. Instead, the gift communicates to the recipient something about the characteristics of the giver. The communicated information increases the value of the relationship, and, hence, the giver is willing to spend resources on a gift. The same information cannot be credibly communicated without gift giving; the giver would simply lie.”

I believe we can adapt the latter paragraph to most if not all politics. To illustrate what I mean I’ll proceed to evaluate a little on the Mexico’s new airport project being cancelled. I will be using my personal opinion on this matter, and I apologize in advance to anyone that might feel offended; not the intention.

After pursuing presidency for more than 12 years, AMLO finally and legitimately won the elections, and before starting his mandate, he already cancelled the new airport construction. This is his gift, a gift that is worthless to the recipient, it may even be a cost. Instead, the gift communicates to the recipient something about the characteristics of the giver. To the free market economy, it communicates the new authoritarian way in which he intends to work; to the Mexican people it communicates change. President elect Andres Manuel had to give this gift, he had to show who is in charge now and how much change he intends to give the people. The same information cannot be credibly communicated without gift giving; the giver would simply lie. I believe this was the main reason for his choice, above all costs incurred, this message he sent was his gift.

I might have been a little dramatic, but the main idea still relies on signaling and politics (at least the most recent ones). I believe if we look deeper into this kind of examples we can find many other relationships, specially for Trump.

José I Avalos


I think your post and example are far from being dramatic. This, indeed, was his gift/token/offering of “true” change. I would even dare to say he feels that cancelling the airport is his equivalent action to that of the oil industry’s expropriation done by Lazaro Cárdenas. He feels he is legitimizing his initiating government with this action… With 31 million votes he needs to legitimize absolutely nothing. He won by an overwhelming difference.

Actions like the one you mention are far from necessary to legitimize himself, 31 million Mexicans already did that for him. You are absolutely correct to put this action as a gift to the people and even a gift to the private sector and those involved in the canceled airport project. Evidently, the content of the gift has different meanings and values to both recipients. But, again, as you correctly stated, the actions without a gift would mean and communicate nothing, the giver would still be promising and lying.

Gifts are far more important than liking the content, as we saw on class and you correctly stated it here, the important thing of a gift is the message it transmits.


I really like this example that you are giving here, since I like how you related it with the model. I believe we can also take this to public policies: take, by example the tax that was raised for “high-caloric food and beverages” back in the day. The aim for this tax was to reduce overweight in Mexico and improve people’s health. Various studies have actually proven that this did not lower consuption of this goods, but rather increased it, not doing anything for our population’s health.
The signaling is clear: the government introduced a tax and the gift was “better health”. Such gift could’ve “sugar-coated” the fact that they were handing more money for the government to spend, yet had no true value. (since it actually didn0t make them healthier). This communicates that the State cares for people’s health and hence, is caring for them.
This information cannot be credibly communicated without gift-giving, since the government is forced to implement public policies in order to show that it cares for its people. Yet, this was the wrong one, with true results just hidden behind the signaling.

Paula Corte