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Series:Working Papers  Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 

Working Paper
Use it or Lose it: Efficiency Gains from Wealth Taxation
How does wealth taxation differ from capital income taxation? When the return on investment is equal across individuals, a well-known result is that the two tax systems are equivalent. Motivated by recent empirical evidence documenting persistent heterogeneity in rates of return across individuals, we revisit this question. With such heterogeneity, the two tax systems have opposite implications for both efficiency and inequality. Under capital income taxation, entrepreneurs who are more productive, and therefore generate more income, pay higher taxes. Under wealth taxation, entrepreneurs who have similar wealth levels pay similar taxes regardless of their productivity, which expands the tax base, shifts the tax burden toward unproductive entrepreneurs, and raises the savings rate of productive ones. This reallocation increases aggregate productivity and output. In the simulated model parameterized to match the US data, replacing the capital income tax with a wealth tax in a revenue-neutral fashion delivers a significantly higher average lifetime utility to a newborn (about 7.5% in consumption-equivalent terms). Turning to optimal taxation, the optimal wealth tax (OWT) in a stationary equilibrium is positive and yields even larger welfare gains. In contrast, the optimal capital income tax (OCIT) is negative—a subsidy—and large, and it delivers lower welfare gains than the wealth tax. Furthermore, the subsidy policy increases consumption inequality, whereas the wealth tax reduces it slightly. We also consider an extension that models the transition path and find that individuals who are alive at the time of the policy change, on average, would incur large welfare losses if the new policy is OCIT but would experience large welfare gains if the new policy is an OWT. We conclude that wealth taxation has the potential to raise productivity while simultaneously reducing consumption inequality.
AUTHORS: Guvenen, Fatih; Kambourov, Gueorgui; Kuruscu, Burhanettin; Chen, Daphne; Ocampo, Sergio
DATE: 2019-09-24

Working Paper
Sticky prices and sectoral real exchange rates
The classic explanation for the persistence and volatility of real exchange rates is that they are the result of nominal shocks in an economy with sticky goods prices. A key implication of this explanation is that if goods have differing degrees of price stickiness then relatively more sticky goods tend to have relatively more persistent and volatile good-level real exchange rates. Using panel data, we find only modest support for these key implications. The predictions of the theory for persistence have some modest support: in the data, the stickier is the price of a good the more persistent is its real exchange rate, but the theory predicts much more variation in persistence than is in the data. The predictions of the theory for volatility fare less well: in the data, the stickier is the price of a good the smaller is its conditional variance while in the theory the opposite holds. We show that allowing for pricing complementarities leads to a modest improvement in the theory's predictions for persistence but little improvement in the theory's predictions for conditional variances.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Midrigan, Virgiliu
DATE: 2007

Working Paper
A test of the exogeneity of national variables in a regional econometric model
Many regional econometric models are estimated under the maintained assumption that certain national variables are exogenous with respect to the regional variables in the models. This exogeneity assumption is testable using time series methods of inference, yet, to my knowledge, no regional model has been so tested. In this paper, I test the national exogeneity assumption included in the specification of a particular regional forecasting model. Such a test is, I believe, a necessary and important step in the construction of any econometric model.
AUTHORS: Anderson, Paul A.
DATE: 1979

Working Paper
New evidence on state banking before the Civil War
Prior to the Civil War there were three major differences among states in how U.S. banks were regulated: (1) Whether they were established by charter or under free-banking laws. (2) Whether they were permitted to branch. (3) Whether the state established a state-owned bank. I use a census of the state banks that existed in the United States prior to the Civil War that I recently constructed to determine how these differences in state regulation affected the banking outcomes in these states. Specifically, I determine differences in banks per capita by state over time; bank longevities (survival rates) by state, size, and type of organization; and bank failure probabilities also by state, size, and type of organization. In addition, I estimate the losses experienced by note holders and determine whether there were systematic differences in these depending on whether or not a bank was organized under a free banking law.
AUTHORS: Weber, Warren E.
DATE: 2006

Working Paper
Clearing arrangements in the United States before the Federal Reserve System
This paper examines two different clearing arrangements for bank liabilities. One was a profit-maximizing private entity, the Suffolk Banking System. It cleared notes for New England banks between 1827 and 1858. The other was a nonprofit collective, the clearinghouses organized in many cities beginning in 1853. The paper examines how well these arrangements prevented bank failures and acted as lenders of last resort. It finds the Suffolk system had fewer failures but acted less like a lender of last resort. It argues that these differences can be explained by the different incentives facing the Suffolk Bank and the members of clearinghouses.
AUTHORS: Weber, Warren E.
DATE: 2012

Working Paper
Interstate migration has fallen less than you think: consequences of hot deck imputation in the Current Population Survey
We show that the significant drop in the annual interstate migration rate between the 2005 and 2006 Current Population Surveys is a statistical artifact. The Census Bureau?s imputation procedure for dealing with missing data before the 2006 survey year inflated the estimated interstate migration rate. An undocumented change in the procedure corrected the problem for the 2006 and later surveys, thus reducing the estimated migration rate. The change in imputation procedures explains 90 percent of the reported decrease in interstate migration between 2005 and 2006, and 42 percent of the decrease between 2000 (the recent high-water mark) and 2010. After we remove the effect of the change in procedures, we find that the annual interstate migration rate follows a smooth downward trend from 1996 to 2010. The 2007?2009 recession is not associated with any additional decrease in interstate migration relative to trend.
AUTHORS: Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam; Kaplan, Greg
DATE: 2010

Working Paper
Optimal capital income taxation with incomplete markets, borrowing constraints, and constant discounting
For a wide class of dynamic models, Chamley (1986) has shown that the optimal capital income tax rate is zero in the long run. Lucas (1990) has argued that for the U.S. economy there is a significant welfare gain from switching to this policy. We show that for the Bewley (1986) class of models with heterogeneous agents and incomplete markets (due to uninsured idiosyncratic shocks), and borrowing constraints the optimal tax rate on capital income is positive even in the long run. Quantitative analysis of a parametric version of such a model suggests that one cannot dismiss the possibility that the observed tax rates on capital and labor income for the U.S. economy are fairly close to being (long run) optimal. We also provide an existence proof for the dynamic Ramsey optimal tax problem in this environment.
AUTHORS: Aiyagari, S. Rao
DATE: 1994

Working Paper
Interest rates and prices in the long run: a study of the Gibson paradox
AUTHORS: Sargent, Thomas J.
DATE: 1971

Working Paper
Stopping moderate inflations: the methods of Poincaré and Thatcher
AUTHORS: Sargent, Thomas J.
DATE: 1981

Working Paper
The Pass-Through of Sovereign Risk
This paper examines the macroeconomic implications of sovereign credit risk in a business cycle model where banks are exposed to domestic government debt. The news of a future sovereign default hampers financial intermediation. First, it tightens the funding constraints of banks, reducing their available resources to finance firms (liquidity channel). Second, it generates a precautionary motive for banks to deleverage (risk channel). I estimate the model using Italian data, finding that i) sovereign credit risk was recessionary and that ii) the risk channel was sizable. I then use the model to evaluate the effects of subsidized long term loans to banks, calibrated to the ECB?s longer-term refinancing operations. The presence of strong precautionary motives at the time of policy enactment implies that bank lending to firms is not very sensitive to these credit market interventions.
AUTHORS: Bocola, Luigi
DATE: 2015-04-16

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