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Jel Classification:D63 

Working Paper
Interpreting the Pari Passu Clause in Sovereign Bond Contracts: It's All Hebrew (and Aramaic) to Me

In this comment, we take a helicopter tour of the history of notions of ?equality? and ?justice? in sovereign debt restructuring in particular, and in the division of property more generally, and show that these concerns have existed for centuries, if not millennia. We argue that the issue at stake in the interpretation of the pari passu clause is not so much the treatment of holders of identical claims?it is now customary to treat them identically?but whether the holders of different claims should be treated differently. We show that exists a customary ?principle of differentiation? that ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-6

Working Paper
Capital Controls and Income Inequality

We examine the distributional implications of capital account policy in a small open economy model with heterogeneous agents and financial frictions. Households save through deposits in both domestic and foreign banks. Entrepreneurs finance investment with borrowed funds from domestic banks and foreign investors. Domestic banks engage in costly intermediation of deposits from households and loans to entrepreneurs. Government capital account policy consists of taxes on outflows and inflows. Given policy, a temporary decline in the world interest rate leads to a surge in inflows, benefiting ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2020-14

Working Paper
Do Rising Top Incomes Lead to Increased Borrowing in the Rest of the Distribution?

One potential consequence of rising concentration of income at the top of the distribution is increased borrowing, as less affluent households attempt to maintain standards of living with less income. This paper explores the ?keeping up with the Joneses? phenomenon using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. Specifically, it examines the responsiveness of payment-to-income ratios for different debt types at different parts of the income distribution to changes in the income thresholds at the 95th and 99th percentiles. The analysis provides some evidence indicating that household debt ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2016-046

Working Paper
A Comparison of Living Standards Across the States of America

We use an expected utility framework to examine how living standards vary across the United States and how each state's living standards have evolved over time. Our welfare measure accounts for cross-state variations in mortality, consumption, education, inequality, and cost of living. We find that per capita income is a good indicator of living standards, with a correlation of 0.80 across states. Living standards in most states, however, appear closer to those in the richest states than their difference in per capita income would suggest. Whereas high-income states benefit from higher life ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-041

Working Paper
Updating the Racial Wealth Gap

Using newly available data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, this paper updates and extends the literature exploring the racial wealth gap. We examine several hypotheses proposed by previous researchers, including the importance of inherited wealth and other family support and that of trends in local real estate markets, and also extend the literature by exploring the gap across the distribution of wealth and simultaneously considering white, African American and Hispanic households. The findings indicate that observable factors account for all of wealth gap between white and Hispanic ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-76

Working Paper
Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data

Administrative tax data indicate that U.S. top income and wealth shares are substantial and increasing rapidly (Piketty and Saez 2003, Saez and Zucman 2014). A key reason for using administrative data to measure top shares is to overcome the under-representation of families at the very top that plagues most household surveys. However, using tax records alone restricts the unit of analysis for measuring economic resources, limits the concepts of income and wealth being measured, and imposes a rigid correlation between income and wealth. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) solves the ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-30

Working Paper
The Illusion of School Choice: Empirical Evidence from Barcelona

School choice aims to improve (1) the matching between children and schools and (2) students? educa-tional outcomes. Yet, the concern is that disadvantaged families are less able to exercise choice, which raises (3) equity concerns. The Boston mechanism (BM) is a procedure that is widely used around the world to resolve overdemands for particular schools by defining a set of priority points based on neigh-borhood and socioeconomic characteristics. The mechanism design literature has shown that under the BM, parents may not have incentives to provide their true preferences, thereby ...
Working Papers , Paper 712

Working Paper
Income inequality and political polarization: time series evidence over nine decades

Rising income inequality and political polarization have led some to hypothesize that the two are causally linked. Properly interpreting such correlations is complicated by the multiple factors that drive each of these phenomena, potential feedbacks between inequality and polarization, measurement issues, and statistical challenges for modeling non-stationary variables. We find that a more precise measure of inequality (the inverted Pareto-Lorenz coefficient) is statistically related to polarization while a less precise one (top 1% income share) is not, and that there are bi-directional ...
Working Papers , Paper 1408

Working Paper
On the Optimality of Differential Asset Taxation

How should a utilitarian government balance redistributive concerns with the need to provide incentives for business creation and investment? Should they tax business profits, the (risk-free) savings of owners, or some combination of both? To address this question, this paper presents a model in which the desirability of differential asset taxation emerges endogenously from the presence of agency frictions. I consider an environment in which entrepreneurs hire workers and rent capital to produce output subject to privately observed shocks and have the ability to both divert capital to private ...
Working Papers , Paper 201917

Working Paper
The Optimal Taxation of Business Owners

Business owners in the United States are disproportionately represented among the very wealthy and are exposed to substantial idiosyncratic risk. Further, recent evidence indicates business income primarily reflects returns to the human (rather than financial) capital of the owner. Motivated by these facts, this paper characterizes the optimal taxation of income and wealth in an environment where business income depends jointly on innate ability, luck, and the accumulated past effort exerted by the owner. I show that in (constrained) efficient allocations, more productive entrepreneurs ...
Working Papers , Paper 201926

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