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The Cost of Capital in the U.S. and Japan: A Comparison

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  • Albert Ando
  • Alan J. Auerbach

Abstract

This paper uses financial statement data for large samples of U.S. and Japanese nonfinancial corporations to estimate the return to capital in each country for the period 1967-83. Interpreting these as measures of the cost of capital, we find that the before-tax cost of corporate capital was higher for U.S. firms than for their Japanese counterparts, with the average gap potentially as high as 5.8 percentage points. The use of alternative measurement techniques alters the gap slightly but does not alter the basic finding. However, market returns in the two countries were much closer during the same period. Certain potential explanations for the gap in returns are rejected by empirical evidence, including differences in corporate taxation, differences in borrowing and differences in asset mix. This leaves three potential explanations: differences in risk, differences in the tax treatment of individual capital income and imperfections in the international flow of capital

Suggested Citation

  • Albert Ando & Alan J. Auerbach, 1987. "The Cost of Capital in the U.S. and Japan: A Comparison," NBER Working Papers 2286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2286 Note: PE
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    1. Richard B. Freeman, 1987. "How Do Public Sector Wages and Employment Respond to Economic Conditions?," NBER Chapters,in: Public Sector Payrolls, pages 183-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1973. "The Demand for State and Local Government Employees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 366-379, June.
    3. Courant, Paul N & Gramlich, Edward M & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1979. "Public Employee Market Power and the Level of Government Spending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 806-817, December.
    4. Freeman, Richard B, 1986. "Unionism Comes to the Public Sector," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 41-86, March.
    5. Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Schwarz, Joshua L., 1987. "Public-sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1219-1260 Elsevier.
    6. Jeffrey S. Zax, 1985. "Labor Relations, Wages and Nonwage Compensation in Municipal Employment," NBER Working Papers 1582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Freeman, Richard B & Medoff, James L, 1981. "The Impact of the Percentage Organized on Union and Nonunion Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 561-572, November.
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    1. The bond-stock conundrum
      by JP Koning in Moneyness on 2015-03-29 01:54:00

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    Cited by:

    1. McCorriston, Steve, 1992. "An Overview of the U.S. Competitiveness Debate," Occasional Papers 233090, Regional Research Project NC-194: Organization and Performance of World Food Systems.
    2. Randall Morck & Masao Nakamura, 2000. "Japanese Corporate Governance and Macroeconomic Problems," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1893, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Jeffrey A. Frankel., 1992. "The Evolving Japanese Financial System, and the Cost of Capital," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C92-002, University of California at Berkeley.
    4. Hong Bae, Kee & Kim, Jeong-Bon, 1998. "The usefulness of earnings versus book value for predicting stock returns and cross corporate ownership in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 467-485, October.

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