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The shifty Laffer curve


  • Zsolt Becsi


Any number of U.S. politicians owe their success to emphasizing tax cutting. According to logic, voters are opting for fewer government services or for changes in the mix of services rendered. It is at this point that things become complicated, however, because what happens to expenditures influences how much revenue a government needs to collect. The author of this article observes that a good place to start in understanding the impacts of tax policy is with what is popularly known as the Laffer curve. This curve became famous early in the 1980s when tax rates fell but tax revenues did not rise as the curve predicted, and the United States resorted to deficit spending. This article examines the macroeconomic and conceptual issues that may have made a difference. ; Because most analyses of the Laffer curve occur in a static framework that has proved inadequate, this analysis presents a simple dynamic model useful for analyzing the long-run effects of tax policies. The model also can easily be extended to analyze the disposition of government revenues and the consequent effects on national income. ; It turns out that how the government spends its tax revenues-on consumption, investment, or transfers-is important for understanding the Laffer curve. In fact, a different Laffer curve is associated with the different ways revenues are spent, and it is important to know which curve one is operating on when designing tax policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Zsolt Becsi, 2000. "The shifty Laffer curve," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q3, pages 53-64.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2000:i:q3:p:53-64:n:v.85no.3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guesnerie, Roger & Jerison, Michael, 1991. "Taxation as a social choice problem : The scope of the Laffer argument," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 37-63, February.
    2. Malcomson, James M., 1988. "Some analytics of the Laffer curve : Reply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 131-132, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roger Middleton, 2010. "The Laffer Curve," Chapters,in: Famous Figures and Diagrams in Economics, chapter 54 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Liliana Bunescu & Carmen Comaniciu, 2013. "Graphical Analysis Of Laffer'S Theory For European Union Member States," Annals - Economy Series, Constantin Brancusi University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 2, pages 16-23, April.
    3. Ehrhart, Hélène & Minea, Alexandru & Villieu, Patrick, 2014. "Debt, seigniorage, and the Growth Laffer Curve in developing countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 199-210.
    4. E. EHRHART & Alexandru MINEA & Patrick VILLIEU, 2009. "Deficits, Seignorage and the Growth Laffer Curve in Developing Countries," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 118, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    5. Alexandru Minea & Patrick Villieu, 2009. "Impôt, déficit et croissance économique : un réexamen de la courbe de Laffer," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 119(4), pages 653-675.
    6. Şen, Hüseyin & Bulut-Çevik, Zeynep Burcu & Kaya, Ayşe, 2017. "The Khaldun-Laffer Curve Revisited: A Personal Income Tax-Based Analysis for Turkey," MPRA Paper 78850, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Apr 2017.
    7. Emilian Dobrescu, 2016. "LINS Curve in Romanian Economy," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 18(41), pages 136-136, February.

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    Income tax ; Taxation ; Public policy;


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