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Tax reform and the market for tax-exempt debt

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  • Poterba, James M.

Abstract

This paper provides clear evidence that the yield spread between long-term taxable and tax-exempt bonds responds to changes in expected individual tax rates, a finding that refutes theories of municipal bond pricing that focus exclusively on commercial banks or other financial intermediaries. The results support the conclusion that in the two decades prior to 1986, the municipal bond market was segmented, with different investor clienteles at short and long maturities. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 is likely to affect this market, however, since it has restricted tax benefits from tax-exempt bond investment by commercial banks. Individual investors are increasingly important suppliers of capital to states and localities, and their tax rates are likely to be the primary determinant of the yield spread between taxable and tax-exempt interest rates in the future.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (1989)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 537-562

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:19:y:1989:i:3:p:537-562

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References

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  1. Metcalf, G.E., 1988. "Arbitrage And The Savings Behavior Of The State And Local Governments," Papers 30, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  2. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1985. "An Empirical Examination of Municipal Financial Policy," NBER Working Papers 1599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
  4. Daniel R. Feenberg, 1982. "Does the Investment Interest Limitation Explain the Existence of Dividends?," NBER Working Papers 0530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Buser, Stephen A. & Hess, Patrick J., 1986. "Empirical determinants of the relative yields on taxable and tax-exempt securities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 335-355, December.
  6. Kidwell, David S & Trzcinka, Charles A, 1982. " Municipal Bond Pricing and the New York City Fiscal Crisis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(5), pages 1239-46, December.
  7. Miller, Merton H. & Scholes, Myron S., 1978. "Dividends and taxes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 333-364, December.
  8. Trzcinka, Charles A, 1982. " The Pricing of Tax-Exempt Bonds and the Miller Hypothesis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(4), pages 907-23, September.
  9. Cutler, David M, 1988. "Tax Reform and the Stock Market: An Asset Price Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1107-17, December.
  10. James M. Poterba, 1986. "Explaining the Yield Spread between Taxable and Tax-exempt Bonds : The Role of Expected Tax Policy," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in State and Local Public Finance, pages 5-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kochin, Levis A & Parks, Richard W, 1988. " Was the Tax-Exempt Bond Market Inefficient or Were Future Expected Tax Rates Negative?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(4), pages 913-31, September.
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