Fiscal Stimulus and Firms: A Tale of Two Recessions
In this paper, I examine the effects of a countercyclical fiscal policy that gave firms additional tax refunds--additional liquidity--at the end of the past two recessions. I take advantage of a discontinuity in the slope of the tax refund formula to estimate the policy's impact. I find that after passage of the policy in 2002, firms allocated $0.40 of every tax refund dollar to investment. After passage of the policy in 2009, in contrast, firms used the refunds to increase cash holdings ($0.96 of every refund dollar) before paying down debt in the following year. I provide evidence that ...
Financial Well-being: At the Convergence of People and Place – Reflections from a Chicago Conversation
This brief collection of writings is based on a convening, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, to have a local conversation about financial well-being. This gathering was motivated by ?What It?s Worth,? a joint publication of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, collecting insights from thought leaders across the country on the topic of financial capacity for families and communities.
Dividend Taxes and Stock Volatility
How do dividend taxes affect stock volatility? In this paper, I use a decrease in dividend taxes as a natural experiment to identify their impact on firm's price volatility. If a risk-averse executive faces price risk through his incentive contract, changes in stock volatility due to dividend taxes may increase agency costs and therefore decrease overall welfare. Stock volatility decreased after the tax cut for firms where an executive has large holdings of shares and options relative to firms where an executive has small holdings of shares and options. Therefore, with a risk-averse executive ...
Larceny in the Product Market: A Hidden Tax?
This paper compares the distortionary impact of larceny theft across different product markets, characterizing such crime as a “hidden tax” on producers or consumers. We estimate the size of this tax and how it is affected by exogenous changes in larceny rates driven by the enactment of higher felony larceny thresholds. Pre-enactment hidden tax rates are small, ranging from 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent. These tax rates rise or fall with enactment, varying by product market. Such exogenous changes in the hidden tax induce state-level annual welfare changes that are minimal, ranging from ...
Should Platforms be Allowed to Charge Ad Valorem Fees?
Many platforms that facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers charge ad valorem fees in which fees depend on the transaction price set by sellers. Given these platforms do not incur significant costs that vary with transaction prices, their use of ad valorem fees has raised controversies about the efficiency of this practice. In this paper, using a model that connects platforms' use of ad valorem fees to third-degree price discrimination, we evaluate the welfare consequences of banning such fees. We find the use of ad valorem fees generally increases welfare, including for calibrated ...
The Burden of Taxation in the United States and Germany
After 35 years without significant changes to the federal tax code in the United States, tax reform is back on the legislative agenda. Both the congressional Republican delegation (the House GOP) and the Trump administration (the administration) have released draft proposals for tax reform. And both focus heavily on reform of corporate income taxation. The reason for this is quite simple: Increased globalization has made it easier for multinational enterprises to shift their reported profits around the world in order to pay less in taxes. This has led to concerns about the erosion of the U.S. ...
Venture capital (VC) and growth are examined both empirically and theoretically. Empirically, VC-backed startups have higher early growth rates and initial patent quality than non-VC-backed ones. VC backing increases a startup's likelihood of reaching the right tails of the firm size and innovation distributions. Furthermore, outcomes are better for startups matched with more experienced venture capitalists. An endogenous growth model, where venture capitalists provide both expertise and financing for business startups, is constructed to match these facts. The presence of venture capital, the ...
Changes in the Distribution of After-Tax Wealth: Has Income Tax Policy Increased Wealth Inequality?
A substantial share of the wealth of Americans is held in tax-deferred form such as in retirement accounts or as unrealized capital gains. Most data and statistics on assets and wealth is reported on a pre-tax basis, but pre-tax values include an implicit tax liability and may not provide as accurate a measure of the financial position or material well-being of families. In this paper, we describe the distribution of tax-deferred assets in the SCF from 1989 to 2013, provide new estimates of the income tax liabilities implicit in those assets, and present new statistics on the level and ...
Estimating the Intergenerational Elasticity and Rank Association in the U.S.: Overcoming the Current Limitations of Tax Data
Ideal estimates of the intergenerational elasticity (IGE) in income require a large panel of income data covering the entire working lifetimes for two generations. Previous studies have demonstrated that using short panels and covering only certain portions of the life cycle can lead to considerable bias. A recent influential study by Chetty et al. (2014) using tax data estimates the IGE in family income for the entire U.S. to be 0.344, considerably lower than most previous estimates. Despite the seeming advantages of extremely large samples of administrative tax data, I demonstrate that the ...
Improving Transparency and Accountability in State Budgeting
On December 7, 2015, the Volcker Alliance, the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held a conference examining ways to increase transparency and accountability in state (and local) budgeting. Based on research presented at the conference, the main speakers recommended budgetary principles and practices that, if adopted, would improve public understanding of the true nature, cost and consequences of states? tax policies and spending commitments.