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Liquidity, default, taxes, and yields on municipal bonds

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  • Wang, Junbo
  • Wu, Chunchi
  • Zhang, Frank X.

Abstract

We examine the effects of liquidity, default and personal taxes on the relative yields of Treasuries and municipals using a generalized model with liquidity risk. The municipal yield model includes liquidity as a state factor. Using a unique transaction dataset, we estimate the liquidity risk of municipals and its effect on bond yields. Empirical evidence shows that municipal bond yields are strongly affected by all three factors. The effects of default and liquidity risk on municipal yields increase with maturity and credit risk. Liquidity premium accounts for about 9-13% of municipal yields for AAA bonds, 9-15% for AA/A bonds and 8-19% for BBB bonds. A substantial portion of the maturity spread between long- and short-maturity municipal bonds is attributed to the liquidity premium. Ignoring the liquidity risk effect thus results in a severe underestimation of municipal bond yields. Conditional on the effects of default and liquidity risk, we obtain implicit tax rates very close to the statutory tax rates of high-income individuals and institutional investors. Furthermore, these implicit income tax rates are quite stable across bonds of different maturities. Results show that including liquidity risk in the municipal bond pricing model helps explain the muni puzzle.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Junbo & Wu, Chunchi & Zhang, Frank X., 2008. "Liquidity, default, taxes, and yields on municipal bonds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1133-1149, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:32:y:2008:i:6:p:1133-1149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Holian, Matthew & Joffe, Marc, 2013. "Assessing Municipal Bond Default Probabilities," MPRA Paper 46728, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Racheva-Sarabian, Anna & Ryvkin, Dmitry & Semykina, Anastasia, 2015. "The default of special district financing: Evidence from California," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 37-48.
    3. Cestau, Dario & Hollifield, Burton & Li, Dan & Schürhoff, Norman, 2018. "Municipal Bond Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13301, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Wildmer Daniel Gregori & Luigi Marattin, 2019. "Determinants of fiscal distress in Italian municipalities," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 56(4), pages 1269-1281, April.
    5. Landon, Stuart, 2009. "The capitalization of taxes in bond prices: Evidence from the market for Government of Canada bonds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2175-2184, December.
    6. Landoni, Mattia, 2018. "Tax distortions and bond issue pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(2), pages 382-393.
    7. Galle, Brian, 2014. "The effect of national revenues on sub-national revenues evidence from the U.S," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 147-155.
    8. Clemens Sialm, 2006. "Investment Taxes and Equity Returns," NBER Working Papers 12146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Gao, Pengjie & Lee, Chang & Murphy, Dermot, 2019. "Municipal borrowing costs and state policies for distressed municipalities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(2), pages 404-426.
    10. Xiao-Wan Jiang, 2019. "The Impact of Government Intervention on Municipal Bond Liquidity Premium: Evidence from China," Applied Economics and Finance, Redfame publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 79-86, May.
    11. Liu, Pu & Shao, Yingying & Yeager, Timothy J., 2009. "Did the repeated debt ceiling controversies embed default risk in US Treasury securities?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1464-1471, August.
    12. Galvani, Valentina & Behnamian, Aslan, 2009. "A Comparative Analysis of the Returns on Provincial and Federal Canadian Bonds," Working Papers 2009-7, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    13. Hattori, Takahiro, 2018. "Decomposing Japanese municipal bond spreads: Default and liquidity premiums in times of crisis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 16-28.
    14. Kempf, Alexander & Korn, Olaf & Uhrig-Homburg, Marliese, 2012. "The term structure of illiquidity premia," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1381-1391.

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