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  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) investigate how high‐​income taxpayers faced with changes in marginal tax rates respond in ways that reduce expected revenue from higher tax rates, or raise more than expected from lower tax rates. Diamond and Saez (2011) pioneered the use of a statistical formula, which Saez developed, to convert an ETI estimate into a revenue‐​maximizing (“socially optimal”) top tax rate. For the United States, they found that the optimal top rate was about 73 percent when combining the marginal tax rates on income, payrolls, and sales at the federal, state, and local levels. A related paper by Piketty, Saez, and Stantcheva (2014) concluded that, at the highest income levels, the ETI was so small that comparable top tax rates as high as 83 percent could maximize short‐​term revenues, supposedly without suppressing long‐​term economic growth. Such studies could be viewed as part of a larger effort to minimize any efficiency costs of distortive taxation while maximizing assumed revenue gains and redistributive benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Tax Systems, High-Income People
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Jesús Fernández‐​Villaverde
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The monetary arrangements of societies are the result of the interplay of technology and ideas. Technology determines, for example, which coins can be minted and at what cost. For centuries, minting small‐​denomination coinage was too costly to induce Western European governments to supply enough small change (Sargent and Velde 2002). Only the arrival of steam‐​driven presses fixed this problem (Doty 1998). Simultaneously, ideas about private property and the scope of government determined whether private entrepreneurs were allowed to compete with governments in the supply of small change (Selgin 2008). Technology and ideas about money engage dialectically. Technological advances shape our ideas about money by making new monetary arrangements feasible. Ideas about desirable outcomes direct innovators to develop new technologies.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Monetary Policy, Cryptocurrencies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Ryan H. Murphy, Colin O'Reilly
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Tyler Cowen (2020), in a controversial and widely discussed blog post, has argued that free economic institutions must be accompanied by state capacity to achieve maximal growth rates. He calls this “State Capacity Libertarianism,” which echoes positions he has posed previously (Cowen 2007, 2018). Besley and Persson (2011) can be perhaps seen as a direct predecessor. Criticisms immediately emerged, with Henderson (2020) arguing that Cowen’s specific proposals are in direct conflict with libertarianism, and with minor caveats, free economic institutions are already able to achieve the goals Cowen hopes to achieve with state capacity. Geloso and Salter (forthcoming) argue that the lack of examples of wealthy countries with weak states is due to survivorship bias, and they apply their argument to criticize Cowen (Geloso and Salter 2020). Caplan (2018), while not directly addressing State Capacity Libertarianism, argues that there is little reason to believe that the effects of state capacity are the result of strong states themselves, rather than the social and cultural factors that allowed a strong state to emerge in the first place. The purpose of this article is to put data to the question of the individual effects of state capacity and free economic institutions on economic performance, and the potential interaction between the two.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, State, Libertarianism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kerianne N. Lawson, Robert A. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article examines 77 countries with the most significant economic liberalizations since 1970, as measured by changes in the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index. Measures of both the speed and comprehensiveness of the reforms are presented. Our empirical evidence suggests that faster reforming nations economically outperformed slower reformers. We do not find evidence that more comprehensive reforms, as opposed to more narrowly targeted reforms, had much of an impact on ensuing economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, Economic Growth, Liberalization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: How often do we hear references to the notion that we live in a rules-based global trading system? Addressing the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised liberalism, free trade, and globalization as “the forces that underpin the rules-based international system that is key to our global prosperity and security” (Martin 2017). Chinese President Xi Jinping likewise extolled the virtues of a rules-based economic order at Davos, winning widespread praise for defending free trade and globalization (Fidler, Chen, and Wei 2017). But could someone please explain: What exactly are those rules? Because if we are going to invoke the sentimentality of Bretton Woods by suggesting that the world has remained true to its precepts, we are ignoring geopolitical reality. Moreover, we are denying the warped economic consequences of global trade conducted in the absence of orderly currency arrangements. We have not had a rules-based international monetary system since President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement in August 1971. Today there are compelling reasons—political, economic, and strategic—for President Trump to initiate the establishment of a new international monetary system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ryan Murphy, Robert A. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article uses newly gathered and available data and autoregressive methods to create an economic freedom index for the 1950s and 1960s for up to 95 countries. The resulting index allows not only for a longer time series but also for a larger sample of countries than has been previously available.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Global Focus