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Capital Income Taxes and the Benefit of Price Stability

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

Going from low inflation to price stability involves a short term loss (associated with the" higher unemployment rate required to reduce the inflation) and results in a series of welfare gains" in all future years. The primary source of these gains is the reduction in the distortions that result" from the interaction of tax rules and inflation. The paper quantifies the gains associated with" reducing the distortion in favor of current consumption rather than future consumption and in" favor of the consumption of owner occupied housing. These tax effects are much larger than the" effect on the demand for money that is generally emphasized in studies of the distorting effect of" inflation. The seignorage gains are also small in comparison to other effects of the tax-inflation" interaction. The estimates imply that the annual value of the net benefits of going from two" percent inflation to price stability are about one percent of GDP. Discounting this growing" stream of benefits at a real discount rate of five percent implies a net present value of about more" than 30 percent of GDP. All estimates of the short-run cost of going from low inflation to price" stability are less than this.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein, 1997. "Capital Income Taxes and the Benefit of Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 6200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feldstein, Martin S, 1979. "The Welfare Cost of Permanent Inflation and Optimal Short-Run Economic Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 749-768, August.
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    3. Rosen, Harvey S., 1985. "Housing subsidies: Effects on housing decisions, efficiency, and equity," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 375-420 Elsevier.
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    6. Martin Feldstein & Jerry Green & Eytan Sheshinski, 1983. "Inflation and Taxes in a Growing Economy with Debt and Equity Finance," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 44-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    8. Laurence Ball, 1994. "What Determines the Sacrifice Ratio?," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy, pages 155-193 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Fiscal policies, capital formation, and capitalism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 399-420, April.
    10. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Consumer Spending and the After-Tax Real Interest Rate," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 53-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Martin S. Feldstein, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Chapters,in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 123-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Stanley Fischer & Franco Modigliani, 1978. "Towards an understanding of the real effects and costs of inflation," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 114(4), pages 810-833, December.
    13. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
    14. Roland Benabou, 1992. "Inflation and Efficiency in Search Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(2), pages 299-329.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerhard Rösl & Karl-Heinz Tödter, 2015. "Wie teuer ist die Niedrigzinspolitik der EZB für Deutschland?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(07), pages 43-50, April.
    2. Andrew Coleman, 2010. "The long-term effects of capital gains taxes in New Zealand," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(2), pages 159-177.
    3. repec:ipg:wpaper:2014-474 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Frederic S. Mishkin, 2000. "What should central banks do?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 1-14.
    5. Mihir A. Desai & James R. Hines, Jr., 1999. "Excess Capital Flows and the Burden of Inflation in Open Economies," NBER Chapters,in: The Costs and Benefits of Price Stability, pages 235-272 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Juan Dolado, 1999. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability in Spain," NBER Chapters,in: The Costs and Benefits of Price Stability, pages 95-132 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Honohan, Patrick, 2003. "Avoiding the pitfalls in taxing financial intermediation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3056, The World Bank.
    8. Blaszkiewicz, Monika & Konieczny, Jerzy & Myslinska, Anna & Radziwil, Artur & Przemyslaw, Wozniak, 2002. "Some benefits of reducing inflation in transition economies," BOFIT Discussion Papers 16/2002, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    9. João Sousa Andrade & António Portugal Duarte, 2011. "The Portuguese Public Finances and the Spanish Horse," GEMF Working Papers 2011-21, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    10. Leo Bonato, 1998. "The benefits of price stability: some estimates for New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 61, September.
    11. William Poole, 1999. "Is inflation too low?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 3-10.
    12. Martin Feldstein, 2002. "The Role for Discretionary Fiscal Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment," NBER Working Papers 9203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1999. "Interest Rate Rules in an Estimated Sticky Price Model," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 57-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Pierre Fortin & George A. Akerlof & William T. Dickens & George L. Perry, 2002. "Inflation and Unemployment in the U.S. and Canada: A Common Framework," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 20-16, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
    15. Frederic S. Mishkin & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, 2001. "One decade of inflation targeting in the world : What do we know and what do we need to know?," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 101, Central Bank of Chile.
    16. Andrew Coleman, 2008. "Tax, Credit Constraints, and the Big Costs of Small Inflation," Working Papers 08_14, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    17. Roger H. Gordon & Julie Berry Cullen, 2002. "Taxes and Entrepreneurial Activity: Theory and Evidence for the U.S," NBER Working Papers 9015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Gerhard Rösl & Karl-Heinz Tödter, 2015. "Zins- und Wohlfahrtseffekte extremer Niedrigzinspolitik für die Sparer in Deutschland," ROME Working Papers 201501, ROME Network.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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