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Fiscal Policies, Inflation, and Capital Formation

  • Feldstein, Martin

Three ways of averting "excess saving" have been emphasized in both theory and practice. The thrust of the Keynesian prescription was to increase the government deficit to provide demand for the resources that would not otherwise be used for either consumption or investment. In this way, aggregate demand would be maintained by substituting public consumption for private consumption. A second alternative prescription was to reduce the private saving rate. Early Keynesians like Seymour Harris saw the new Social Security program as an effective way to reduce aggregate saving. The third type of policy, developed by JamesTobin, relies on increasing the rate of inflation and making money less attractive relative to real capital. In Tobin's analysis, the resulting increase in capital intensity offsets the higher saving rate and therefore maintains aggregate demand. This paper will examine ways of increasing capital intensity without raising the rate of inflation. The analysis will also show why, contrary to Tobin's conclusion, a higher rate of inflation may not succeed in increasing investors' willingness to hold real capital.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 70 (1980)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 636-50

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:70:y:1980:i:4:p:636-50
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  1. Feldstein, Martin S & Chamberlain, Gary, 1973. "Multimarket Expectations and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 5(4), pages 873-902, November.
  2. Feldstein, Martin S & Eckstein, Otto, 1970. "The Fundamental Determinants of the Interest Rate," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 52(4), pages 363-75, November.
  3. Feldstein, Martin S & Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Towards an Economic Theory of Replacement Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(3), pages 393-423, May.
  4. Friedman, Benjamin Morton, 1977. "Financial Flow Variables and the Short-Run Determination of Long-Term Interest Rates," Scholarly Articles 4554309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1972. "A General Equilibrium Calculation of the Effects of Differential Taxation of Income from Capital in the U.S," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 328, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Feldstein, Martin S & Green, Jerry R & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1978. "Inflation and Taxes in a Growing Economy with Debt and Equity Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S53-70, April.
  7. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1977. "Financial Flow Variables and the Short-Run Determination of Long-Term Interest Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 661-89, August.
  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1973. "Taxation, corporate financial policy, and the cost of capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-34, February.
  9. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Income Taxes, and the Rate of Interest: A Theoretical Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 28-43 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Arnold C. Harberger, 1962. "The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 215.
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