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Financiers versus Engineers: Should the Financial Sector Be Taxed or Subsidized?

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  • Thomas Philippon

Abstract

I study the allocation of human capital in an economy with production externalities, financial constraints, and career choices. Agents choose to become entrepreneurs, workers, or financiers. Entrepreneurship has positive externalities but requires the services of financiers. In the second best solution, the financial sector should be taxed in exactly the same way as the nonfinancial sector. When direct subsidies to investment and scientific education are not feasible, subsidizing the financial sector increases growth if externalities are driven by physical capital as in Paul M. Romer (1986), and decreases growth if externalities are driven by human capital as in Robert E. Lucas, Jr. (1988). (JEL E44, H21, H25, L26, O41)

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Philippon, 2010. "Financiers versus Engineers: Should the Financial Sector Be Taxed or Subsidized?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 158-182, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:158-82
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.2.3.158
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2009. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006," NBER Working Papers 14644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-530.
    4. Jeremy Greenwood & Juan M. Sanchez & Cheng Wang, 2010. "Financing Development: The Role of Information Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1875-1891, September.
    5. Xavier Freixas & Jean-Charles Rochet, 1997. "Microeconomics of Banking," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061937, January.
    6. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1997. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds, and The Real Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 663-691.
    7. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    8. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467-467.
    9. Duffie Darrell & Rahi Rohit, 1995. "Financial Market Innovation and Security Design: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-42, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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