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Why is Capital so Immobile Internationally?: Possible Explanations and Implications for Capital Income Taxation

  • Roger H. Gordon
  • A. Lans Bovenberg

The evidence on international capital immobility is extensive, ranging from the correlations between domestic savings and investment pointed out by Feldstein-Horioka (1980), to real interest differentials across countries, to the lack of international portfolio diversification. To what degree does capital immobility modify past results forecasting that small open economies should not tax savings or investment? The answer depends on the cause of this immobility. We argue that asymmetric information between countries provides the most plausible explanation for the above observations. When we examine optimal tax policy in an open economy allowing for asymmetric information, rather than simply finding that savings and investment should not be taxed, we now forecast government subsidies to foreign acquisitions of domestic firms. Some omitted factors that would argue against subsidizing foreign acquisitions are explored briefly.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4796.

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Date of creation: Jul 1994
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, vol.86, no.5, pp.1057-1075, December1996.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4796
Note: ITI IFM PE
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  1. Roger H. Gordon & Hal R. Varian, 1986. "Taxation of Asset Income in the Presence of a World Securites Market," NBER Working Papers 1994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
  3. Linda L. Tesar & Ingrid M. Werner, 1994. "International Equity Transactions and U.S. Portfolio Choice," NBER Working Papers 4611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Adler, Michael & Dumas, Bernard, 1983. " International Portfolio Choice and Corporation Finance: A Synthesis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(3), pages 925-84, June.
  5. Tamim Bayoumi, 1990. "Saving-Investment Correlations: Immobile Capital, Government Policy, or Endogenous Behavior?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(2), pages 360-387, June.
  6. Alberto Giovannini & R. Glenn Hubbard & Joel Slemrod, 1993. "Studies in International Taxation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number giov93-1, June.
  7. Roger H. Gordon & Joosung Jun & Joel Slemrod, 1993. "Taxes and the Form of Ownership of Foreign Corporate Equity," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 13-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mishkin, Frederic S, 1984. " Are Real Interest Rates Equal across Countries? An Empirical Investigation of International Parity Conditions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(5), pages 1345-57, December.
  9. Tesar, Linda L., 1991. "Savings, investment and international capital flows," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 55-78, August.
  10. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1989. "International Tax Competition and Gains from Tax Harmonization," NBER Working Papers 3152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Goodspeed, T-J & White, A-D, 1996. "International taxation," Papers 96-11, Wellesley College - Department of Economics.
  12. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  13. Robert E. Cumby & Maurice Obstfeld, 1982. "International Interest-Rate and Price-Level Linkages Under Flexible Exchange Rates: A Review of Recent Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Harris, Robert S & Ravenscraft, David, 1991. " The Role of Acquisitions in Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from the U.S. Stock Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(3), pages 825-44, July.
  15. Murphy, Robert G., 1984. "Capital mobility and the relationship between saving and investment rates in OECD countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 327-342, December.
  16. Michael Dooley & Jeffrey Frankel & Donald J. Mathieson, 1987. "International Capital Mobility: What Do Saving-Investment Correlations Tell Us?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(3), pages 503-530, September.
  17. Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Tax Policy and International Competitiveness," NBER Chapters, in: International Aspects of Fiscal Policies, pages 349-386 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Kyle, Albert S, 1985. "Continuous Auctions and Insider Trading," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1315-35, November.
  19. Robert E. Cumby & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "The International Linkage of Real Interest Rates: The European - U.S. Connection," NBER Working Papers 1423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Kenneth R. French & James M. Poterba, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 3609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Maurice Obstfeld, 1985. "Capital Mobility in the World Economy: Theory and Measurement," NBER Working Papers 1692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Gerard Caprio & David H. Howard, 1983. "Domestic saving, current accounts, and international capital mobility," International Finance Discussion Papers 244, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Finn, Mary G., 1990. "On savings and investment dynamics in a small open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 1-21, August.
  24. Harry Grubert & Timothy Goodspeed & Deborah L. Swenson, 1993. "Explaining the Low Taxable Income of Foreign-Controlled Companies in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 237-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
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