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Dividends, Capital Gains, and the Corporate Veil: Evidence from Britain, Canada, and the United States

In: National Saving and Economic Performance

  • James M. Poterba

This paper investigates the effects of increased cash dividend payout, and of "forced realizations~ of capital gains in corporate control transactions, on the level of aggregate consumption. The results support the proposition that investors respond differently to cash receipts from firms and to accruing capital gains. Consistent but weak evidence for the United States, Great Britain, and Canada suggests that higher dividend tax rates lower consumption. This is consistent with such tax rates increasing corporate saving, while households fail to completely pierce the corporate veil and therefore reduce their consumption. Time series evidence from the U.S. and the U.K. also suggests that "forced realizations" of capital gains in takeovers may spur consumption, indicating a relatively unexplored link between corporate financial decisions and aggregate consumption.

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This chapter was published in:
  • B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1991. "National Saving and Economic Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bern91-2.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 5987.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:5987
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Hendershott, Patric H & Peek, Joe, 1989. "Household Saving in the United States: Measurement and Behavior," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(1), pages 11-19, January.
    2. Julian R. Franks & Robert S. Harris & Cohn Mayer, 1988. "Means of Payment in Takeovers: Results for the United Kingdom and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences, pages 221-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin Hassett, 1989. "Corporate Savings and Shareholder Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Shefrin, Hersh M. & Statman, Meir, 1984. "Explaining investor preference for cash dividends," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 253-282, June.
    6. Campbell, John Y & Deaton, Angus, 1989. "Why Is Consumption So Smooth?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 357-73, July.
    7. David, Paul A & Scadding, John L, 1974. "Private Savings: Ultrarationality, Aggregation, and "Denison's Law."," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 225-49, Part I, M.
    8. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
    9. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1991. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Robert B. Avery & Gregory E. Elliehausen, 1986. "Financial characteristics of high-income families," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Mar, pages 163-177.
    11. E. Philip Howrey & Saul H. Hymans, 1978. "The Measurement and Determination of Loanable-Funds Saving," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(3), pages 655-685.
    12. Bhatia, Kul B., 1979. "Corporate taxation, retained earnings, and capital formation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 123-134, February.
    13. Feldstein, Martin S, 1970. "Corporate Taxation and Dividend Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 57-72, January.
    14. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Shoven, John B, 1989. "Cash Distributions to Shareholders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 129-40, Summer.
    15. Feldstein, Martin S & Fane, George, 1973. "Taxes, Corporate Dividend Policy and Personal Savings: The British Postwar Experience," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(4), pages 399-411, November.
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