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Capital Taxation and Ownership when Markets are Incomplete

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  • Emmanuel Farhi

Abstract

This paper analyzes the theoretical and quantitative implications of optimal capital taxation in the neoclassical growth model with aggregate shocks and incomplete markets. The model features a representative-agent economy with proportional taxes on labor and capital. I first consider the case that the only asset the government can trade is a real risk-free bond. Taxes on capital are set one period in advance, reflecting inertia in tax codes and ruling out replication of the complete markets allocation. Because capital income varies with the state of the economy, capital taxation provides a state contingent source of revenues. I thus identify a novel potential role for capital taxation as a risk sharing instrument between the government and private agents. However, this benefit must be weighted again the distortionary cost of capital taxation. For a baseline case, the optimal policy features a zero tax on capital. Moreover, numerical simulations show that the baseline case provides an excellent benchmark. I next allow the government to hold a non trivial position in capital. Capital ownership provides the same benefit or risk sharing but without the cost of tax distortions. In a variety of quantitative exercises, I show that capital ownership allows the government to realize about 90% of the welfare gains from moving to complete markets. Large positions are typically required for optimality. But smaller positions achieve substantial benefits. In a business-cycle simulation, I show that a 15% short equity position achieves over 40% of the welfare gains from completing markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Emmanuel Farhi, 2007. "Capital Taxation and Ownership when Markets are Incomplete," NBER Working Papers 13390, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13390
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-652, August.
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    6. Andrew Atkeson & V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
    7. Zhu, Xiaodong, 1992. "Optimal fiscal policy in a stochastic growth model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 250-289, December.
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    11. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gervais, Martin & Mennuni, Alessandro, 2015. "Optimal fiscal policy in the neoclassical growth model revisited," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-17.
    2. Fabio Ghironi & Sanjay K. Chugh, 2010. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Endogenous Product Variety," 2010 Meeting Papers 812, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Stylianos Asimakopoulos & Jim Malley, 2013. "The Optimal Distribution of the Tax Burden over the Business Cycle," CESifo Working Paper Series 4468, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Paolo M. Panteghini, 2009. "On the equivalence between labor and consumption taxation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(2), pages 622-629.
    5. Gross, Till, 2014. "Equilibrium capital taxation in open economies under commitment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 75-87.
    6. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2010. "In search of a theory of debt management," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 821-836, October.
    7. Jarque, Arantxa, 2010. "Repeated moral hazard with effort persistence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(6), pages 2412-2423, November.
    8. Till Gross, 2013. "Capital Taxation, Intermediate Goods, and Production Efficiency," Carleton Economic Papers 13-09, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    9. Stefania Albanesi & Roc Armenter, 2012. "Intertemporal Distortions in the Second Best," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1271-1307.
    10. Angelopoulos, Konstantinos & Asimakopoulos, Stylianos & Malley, James, 2015. "Tax smoothing in a business cycle model with capital-skill complementarity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 420-444.
    11. Davide Debortoli & Ricardo Nunes & Pierre Yared, 2017. "Optimal Time-Consistent Government Debt Maturity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(1), pages 55-102.
    12. Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2009. "Debt and deficit fluctuations and the structure of bond markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 473-501, March.
    13. Anastasios Karantounias, 2012. "Optimal fiscal policy with recursive preferences," 2012 Meeting Papers 1085, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Desbonnet, Audrey & Kankanamge, Sumudu, 2017. "Public Debt And Aggregate Risk," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(08), pages 1996-2032, December.
    15. George-Marios Angeletos & Fabrice Collard & Harris Dellas & Behzad Diba, 2013. "Optimal Public Debt Management and Liquidity Provision," NBER Working Papers 18800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Ignacio Presno & Demian Pouzo, 2014. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Default under Incomplete Markets," 2014 Meeting Papers 689, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Rieth, Malte, 2014. "Myopic governments and welfare-enhancing debt limits," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 250-265.
    18. Till Gross, 2013. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation in Open Economies," Carleton Economic Papers 13-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    19. Malte Rieth, 2017. "Capital Taxation and Government Debt Policy with Public Discounting," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1697, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    20. Demian Pouzo & Ignacio Presno, 2015. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Default under Incomplete Markets," Papers 1508.03924, arXiv.org, revised May 2016.
    21. repec:eee:dyncon:v:85:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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