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Stock Market Yields and the Pricing of Municipal Bonds

  • N. Gregory Mankiw
  • James M. Poterba

This paper proposes an alternative to the traditional model for explaining the spread between taxable and tax-exempt bond yields. This alternative model is a special case of a general class of clientele models of portfolio choice and asset market equilibrium. In particular, we consider a setting with two types of investors, a taxable investor and a tax-exempt investor, who hold specialized bond portfolios. The tax-exempt investor holds only taxable bonds, and the taxable investor holds only tax-exempt bonds. Both investors hold equity, and the taxable and tax-exempt bond markets are linked through the equilibrium conditions governing equity holding and bond holding for each type of investor. In contrast to the traditional model, this alternative model has the potential to explain the small observed spread between taxable and tax-exempt yields. In addition, this model predicts that the yield spread between taxable and tax-exempt bonds should be an increasing function of the dividend yield on corporate stocks. Although the substantial changes in the tax code during the last four decades complicate the testing of this model, we find some support for the predicted relationship between the equity dividend yield and the yield spread between taxable and tax-exempt bonds.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5607.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5607.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5607
Note: AP EFG ME PE
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  1. 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.
  2. James M. Poterba, 1987. "Tax Policy and Corporate Saving," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(2), pages 455-516.
  3. Poterba, James M., 1989. "Tax reform and the market for tax-exempt debt," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 537-562, August.
  4. Buser, Stephen A. & Hess, Patrick J., 1986. "Empirical determinants of the relative yields on taxable and tax-exempt securities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 335-355, December.
  5. Trzcinka, Charles A, 1982. " The Pricing of Tax-Exempt Bonds and the Miller Hypothesis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(4), pages 907-23, September.
  6. Green, Richard C, 1993. "A Simple Model of the Taxable and Tax-Exempt Yield Curves," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(2), pages 233-64.
  7. Kenneth D. West & Whitney K. Newey, 1995. "Automatic Lag Selection in Covariance Matrix Estimation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Fortune, Peter, 1988. "Municipal Bond Yields: Whose Tax Rates Matter?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(2), pages 219-33, June.
  9. Kochin, Levis A & Parks, Richard W, 1988. " Was the Tax-Exempt Bond Market Inefficient or Were Future Expected Tax Rates Negative?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(4), pages 913-31, September.
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