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Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: A Reconsideration of the Evidence

  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Kevin Hassett

Foreign direct investment in the United States boomed in the late 1980s. Some have attributed this rise to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which by discouraging investment by domestic firms may have provided opportunities for foreign firms not as strongly affected by the U.S. tax changes. We challenge this view on theoretical and empirical grounds, finding that: (1) While the argument applies to new capital investment, the boom was primarily in mergers and acquisitions; (2) While the argument holds primarily for investment in equipment, there was no shift toward the acquisition of equipment-intensive firms, and (3) The FDI boom in the U.S. was really part of a worldwide FDI boom ? the U.S. share of outbound FDI from other countries did not increase during the period 1987-9.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3895.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3895.

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Date of creation: Nov 1991
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Publication status: published as Studies in International Taxation, Giovannini, Alberto, R. Glenn Hubbardand Joel Slemrod, eds., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, May 1993, pp. 114-144.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3895
Note: PE
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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines, Jr., 1987. "Anticipated Tax Changes and the Timing of Investment," NBER Chapters, in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 85-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Swenson, Deborah L., 1994. "The impact of U.S. tax reform on foreign direct investment in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 243-266, June.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach, 1986. "Tax Reform and Adjustment Costs: The Impact on Investment and Market Value," NBER Working Papers 2103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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