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Fiscal Policies, Capital Formation, and Capitalism

  • Martin Feldstein

This lecture examines the effects of tax policy and social security retirement benefits on capital accumulation and economic welfare. The paper begins by examining how capital income taxes reduce the real return to savers and then discusses the welfare loss of capital income taxation relative to the alternatives of taxing consumption and labor income.The second part deals with social security retirement benefits. In 1994, older Americans will receive cash and medical benefits that cost the government $530 billion or $16,000 per person over 65. A final section discusses the implications of international capital flows for this analysis. As capital flows become more important, the response of government policy may be to compete for foreign capital inflows and to tax domestic savers more heavily; leading to a smaller total volume of capital. The sharp decline in the net national saving rate-from over 8% of GDP in the U.S. in the 1970s to only 4.5% in the 1980s & from over 14% of GDP in Europe in the 1970s to 9.9% in the 1980s -- may not only create lower real incomes and slower growth but may weaken capitalism itself. In the US a decade of slow growth has increased protectionist tendencies in international trade and led to a new interest in industrial policies that expand the role of the government in guiding the direction of technology of private investment. Government policies that discourage saving might make the Schumpeterian vision of a shift from private capitalism to government-dominated economy more likely

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4885.

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Date of creation: Oct 1994
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Publication status: published as The 1994 Joseph Schumpeter Lecture to the European Economic Association, European Economic Review, 39(1995), pp.399-420.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4885
Note: PE
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  1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Testing the Theory of Social Security and Life Cycle Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 396-410, June.
  2. Gale, W.G. & scholz, J.K., 1992. "IRAS and Household Saving," Papers 9244, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  3. Martin Feldstein, 1994. "Tax Policy and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 4851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Inflation and the Taxation of Capital Income in the Corporate Sector," NBER Working Papers 0312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Consumer Spending and the After-Tax Real Interest Rate," NBER Chapters, in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 97-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Do Saving Incentives Work?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 85-180.
  7. French, Kenneth R. & Poterba, James M., 1990. "Japanese and U.S. cross-border common stock investments," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 476-493, December.
  8. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
  9. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
  10. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
  11. Feldstein, Martin S, 1985. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-20, May.
  12. Gordon, Roger H. & Hines, James Jr, 2002. "International taxation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 28, pages 1935-1995 Elsevier.
  13. Feldstein, Martin & Pellechio, Anthony, 1979. "Social Security and Household Wealth Accumulation: New Microeconometric Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(3), pages 361-68, August.
  14. Sandmo, Agnar, 1985. "The effects of taxation on savings and risk taking," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 265-311 Elsevier.
  15. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "Have IRAs Increased U.S. Saving?: Evidence from Consumer Expenditure Surveys," NBER Working Papers 2217, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Martin Feldstein, 1994. "The Effects of Outbound Foreign Direct Investment on the Domestic Capital Stock," NBER Working Papers 4668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Daniel Feenberg & Jonathan Skinner, 1989. "Sources of IRA Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3, pages 25-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Martin Feldstein, 1978. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 29-51 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Martin Feldstein & Philippe Bacchetta, 1989. "National Saving and International Investment," NBER Working Papers 3164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Michael J. Boskin, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 3-27 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1992. "401(k) Plans and Tax-Deferred Saving," NBER Working Papers 4181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Martin Feldstein, 1994. "Taxes, Leverage and the National Return on Outbound Foreign Direct Investment," NBER Working Papers 4689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981. "The Effective Tax Rate and the Pretax Rate of Return," NBER Working Papers 0740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. David, Paul A & Scadding, John L, 1974. "Private Savings: Ultrarationality, Aggregation, and "Denison's Law."," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 225-49, Part I, M.
  26. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld83-1, September.
  27. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  28. Barro, Robert J. & MacDonald, Glenn M., 1979. "Social security and consumer spending in an international cross section," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 275-289, June.
  29. Boskin, Michael J, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S3-27, April.
  30. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1992. "Government Policy and Personal Retirement Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 1-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Makin, John H & Couch, Kenneth A, 1989. "Saving, Pension Contributions, and the Real Interest Rate," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(3), pages 401-07, August.
  32. Blinder, Alan S, 1975. "Distribution Effects and the Aggregate Consumption Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(3), pages 447-75, June.
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