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Saving Europe?: The Unpleasant Arithmetic of Fiscal Austerity in Integrated Economies

Listed author(s):
  • Mendoza, Enrique G.

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Tesar, Linda L.

    ()

    (University of Michigan)

  • Zhang, Jing

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

What are the macroeconomic effects of tax adjustments in response to large public debt shocks in highly integrated economies? The answer from standard closed-economy models is deceptive, because they underestimate the elasticity of capital tax revenues and ignore cross-country spillovers of tax changes. Instead, we examine this issue using a two-country model that matches the observed elasticity of the capital tax base by introducing endogenous capacity utilization and a partial depreciation allowance. Tax hikes have adverse effects on macro aggregates and welfare, and trigger strong cross-country externalities. Quantitative analysis calibrated to European data shows that unilateral capital tax increases cannot restore fiscal solvency, because the dynamic Laffer curve peaks below the required revenue increase. Unilateral labor tax hikes can do it, but have negative output and welfare effects at home and raise welfare and output abroad. Large spillovers also imply that unilateral capital tax hikes are much less costly under autarky than under free trade. Allowing for one-shot Nash tax competition, the model predicts a “race to the bottom” in capital taxes and higher labor taxes. The cooperative equilibrium is preferable, but capital (labor) taxes are still lower (higher) than initially. Moreover, autarky can produce higher welfare than both Nash and Cooperative equilibria.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2014-13.

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Length: 74 pages
Date of creation: 06 Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2014-13
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  1. Stephane Auray & Aureline Eyquem & Paul Gomme, 2011. "A Tale of Tax Policies in Open Economies," Working Papers 11004, Concordia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Mathias Trabandt & Harald Uhlig, 2006. "How Far Are We From The Slippery Slope? The Laffer Curve Revisited," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-023, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  3. Stephen J. Turnovsky, 1997. "International Macroeconomic Dynamics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262201119, July.
  4. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Ostry, Jonathan D., 2008. "International evidence on fiscal solvency: Is fiscal policy "responsible"?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 1081-1093, September.
  5. Jacob Frenkel & Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1991. "International Taxation in an Integrated World," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061430, July.
  6. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  7. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-1085, December.
  8. Mathias Trabandt & Harald Uhlig, 2012. "How Do Laffer Curves Differ across Countries?," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 211-249 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Enrique G. Mendoza & Linda L. Tesar, 1995. "Supply-Side Economics in a Global Economy," NBER Working Papers 5086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dwenger, Nadja & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Profit Taxation and the Elasticity of the Corporate Income Tax Base: Evidence From German Corporate Tax Return Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 118-150, March.
  11. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Tesar, Linda L., 2005. "Why hasn't tax competition triggered a race to the bottom? Some quantitative lessons from the EU," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 163-204, January.
  12. Sorensen, Peter Birch, 1999. "Optimal tax progressivity in imperfect labour markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 435-452, September.
  13. Sørensen, Peter Birch, 2003. "International Tax Competition: A New Framework for Analysis," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 179-192, September.
  14. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria & Asea, Patrick, 1997. "On the ineffectiveness of tax policy in altering long-run growth: Harberger's superneutrality conjecture," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 99-126, October.
  15. Mendoza, Enrique G & Tesar, Linda L, 1998. "The International Ramifications of Tax Reforms: Supply-Side Economics in a Global Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 226-245, March.
  16. Bohn, Henning, 2007. "Are stationarity and cointegration restrictions really necessary for the intertemporal budget constraint?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1837-1847, October.
  17. Christopher L. House & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Temporary Investment Tax Incentives: Theory with Evidence from Bonus Depreciation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 737-768, June.
  18. Stephane Auray & Aureline Eyquem & Paul Gomme, 2011. "A Tale of Tax Policies in Open Economies," Working Papers 11004, Concordia University, Department of Economics.
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