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Are Investment Incentives Blunted by Changes in Prices of Capital Goods?


  • Hassett, Kevin A
  • Hubbard, R Glenn


Recent research on business investment decisions suggests that real investment in plant and equipment is quite sensitive to changes in the user cost of capital, pointing to the possibility that long-run changes in tax policy may have a significant impact on an economy's capital stock. Indeed, many countries have at times adopted investment tax incentives to stimulate investment. The prevalence of investment incentives suggests that local policy-makers believe these are effective in increasing investment at a reasonable cost in terms of lost revenue. In this paper, we explore this issue by estimating the extent to which countries are price-takers in the world market for capital goods. We find that most countries--even the United States--face a highly elastic supply of capital goods, suggesting that the effect of investment incentives on the price of investment goods is small. Hence effects of long-run changes in investment tax policy are likely to materialize in real investment rather than simply being dissipated in changes in capital-goods prices. Copyright 1998 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Hassett, Kevin A & Hubbard, R Glenn, 1998. "Are Investment Incentives Blunted by Changes in Prices of Capital Goods?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 103-125, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:intfin:v:1:y:1998:i:1:p:103-25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jason Cummins & Trevor Harris & Kevin Hassett, 1995. "Accounting Standards, Information Flow, and Firm Investment Behavior," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations, pages 181-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Cummins, Jason G. & Hassett, Kevin A. & Hubbard, R. Glenn, 1996. "Tax reforms and investment: A cross-country comparison," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 237-273, October.
    3. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1999. "Aggregate investment," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 813-862 Elsevier.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett & Stephen D. Oliner, 1994. "Reassessing the Social Returns to Equipment Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 789-802.
    5. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1994. "A Reconsideration of Investment Behavior Using Tax Reforms as Natural Experiments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 1-74.
    6. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1971. "Price Competitiveness in World Trade," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krav71-1, January.
    7. Kravis, Irving B. & Lipsey, Robert E., 1978. "Price behavior in the light of balance of payments theories," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 193-246, May.
    8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Plant-Level Adjustment and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 1-54.
    9. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-329, June.
    10. Officer, Lawrence H., 1986. "The law of one price cannot be rejected: Two tests based on the tradable/nontradable price ratio," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 159-182.
    11. Kevin A. Hassett, 1999. "Tax Policy and Investment," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 53049, September.
    12. Cohen, Darrel S. & Hassett, Kevin A., 1999. "Inflation, Taxes, and the Durability of Capital," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(1), pages 91-98, March.
    13. Martin Feldstein & James R. Hines Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld95-2, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Chirinko & Steven M. Fazzari & Andrew P. Meyer, 2002. "That Elusive Elasticity: A Long-panel Approach to Estimating the Price Sensitivity of Business Capital," Emory Economics 0202, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    2. Philippe Aghion & Nick Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: an Inverted-U Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 701-728.
    3. Karl Whelan, 1999. "Tax incentives, material inputs, and the supply curve for capital equipment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-21, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Hanlon, Michelle & Heitzman, Shane, 2010. "A review of tax research," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 127-178, December.
    5. Zee, Howell H. & Stotsky, Janet G. & Ley, Eduardo, 2002. "Tax Incentives for Business Investment: A Primer for Policy Makers in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1497-1516, September.
    6. Robert S. Chirinko & Steven M. Fazzari & Andrew P. Meyer, 2004. "That Elusive Elasticity: A Long-Panel Approach to Estimating the Capital-Labor Substitution Elasticity," CESifo Working Paper Series 1240, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Federico Revelli, 2013. "Tax incentives for cultural heritage conservation," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage, chapter 6, pages i-i Edward Elgar Publishing.

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