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Capital Income Taxes and the Benefit of Price Stability

  • Martin Feldstein

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6200.

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Date of creation: Sep 1997
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Publication status: published as The Costs and Benefits of Price Stability. Felstein, Martin, ed., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 9-40.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6200
Note: EFG ME PE
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  1. Robert J. Barro, 2012. "Inflation and Economic Growth," CEMA Working Papers 568, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  2. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "Consumer Spending and the After-Tax Real Interest Rate," NBER Working Papers 1991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Feldstein, Martin & Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & Poterba, James, 1983. "The effective tax rate and the pretax rate of return," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-158, July.
  5. Sheshinski, Eytan & Feldstein, Martin & Green, Jerry & Auerbach, Alan, 1978. "Inflation and Taxes in a Growing Economy with Debt and Equity Finance," Scholarly Articles 3203645, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Fiscal policies, capital formation, and capitalism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 399-420, April.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Poterba, James M, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-52, November.
  11. Stanley Fischer & Franco Modigliani, 1978. "Towards An Understanding of the Real Effects and Costs of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 0303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. James M. Poterba, 1992. "Taxation and Housing: Old Questions, New Answers," NBER Working Papers 3963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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 749-68, August.
  15. Laurence Ball, 1993. "What Determines the Sacrifice Ratio?," NBER Working Papers 4306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  17. 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.
  18. Benabou, Roland, 1992. "Inflation and Efficiency in Search Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 299-329, April.
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