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Inflation, Tax Rules and Investment: Some Econometric Evidence

  • Feldstein, Martin

This paper presents econometric evidence on the effect of tax incentives on business Investment in the United States in the period from 1953 through1978. The analysis emphasizes that the Interaction of inflation and existing tax rules has contributed substantially to the decline of business investment since the late 1960's.Because the investment process is far too complex for any simple econometric model to be convincing, I have estimated three quite different models of investment behavior. The strength of the empirical evidence rests on the fact that all three specifications support the same conclusion. More generally, the analysis and evidence show that theoretical models of macroeconomic equilibrium should specify explicitly the role of distortionary taxes, especially taxes on capital income. The failure to include such tax rules can have dramatic and misleading effects on the qualitative as well as the quantitative properties of macroeconomic theories. This paper was presented as the Fisher-Shultz Lecture at the Fourth World Congress of the Econometric Society, 29 August 1980, in Aix-en-Province.

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Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 50 (1982)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 825-62

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:50:y:1982:i:4:p:825-62
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  1. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
  2. Feldstein, Martin & Green, Jerry, 1983. "Why Do Companies Pay Dividends?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 17-30, March.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Helliwell, John & Glorieux, G, 1970. "Forward-Looking Investment Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 499-516, October.
  6. Thomas J. Sargent, 1978. "Estimation of dynamic labor demand schedules under rational expectations," Staff Report 27, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
  8. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Feldstein, Martin S & Green, Jerry & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1979. "Corporate Financial Policy and Taxation in a Growing Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 411-32, August.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  12. Bradford, David F., 1981. "The incidence and allocation effects of a tax on corporate distributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-22, February.
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