Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Ana Maria Herrera

Abstract

This dissertation explores the effect of tax news on national and state-level economic activity.

In the first chapter, I explore the effect of tax news on state economic activity. I estimate a factor-augmented vector autoregression (FAVAR) model, which allows us to consider the possibility that unobserved regional factors --such as credit and fiscal conditions-- might be relevant for modelling the dynamic response of aggregate and state-level economic activity. Tax news is identified as a shock to the implicit tax rate, measured by the yield spread between the one year tax-exempt municipal bond and the one-year taxable Treasury bond. My results suggest that an increase in the implicit tax rate raises national output over much of the anticipation period. In addition, anticipated tax increases give rise to expansions in state personal income and employment. I find that the variation in the responsiveness of economic activity across states is mostly explained by differences in industrial composition as well as by some demographic characteristics such as education attainment and median age.

In the second chapter, I examine the impact and transmission of the effect of tax news on U.S. economic activity. I find that news related to higher federal income taxes raise the real GDP over the anticipation period. In addition, aggregate and disaggregate industrial production, employment per worker, hours worked per worker and capacity utilization rate respond positively to tax news in the short run. An historical decomposition shows that tax news and federal funds rate shocks have been the main source of fluctuations in real GDP. In particular, tax news associated with legislation in 1986, 1993, and 2001 contributed to the movements in the real GDP.

In the third chapter, I investigate whether the effect of tax news shocks differs across periods of recession and expansion. I follow Jorda’s (2005) local projection method to estimate tax news effects on the economy. I find that news about future tax cuts reduces economic activity for about four quarters and has a significant effect on the U.S. economy in the short run. The behavior of output following tax news shocks is similar in both recession and expansion phases of the business cycle and indicates that news about future tax cuts are contractionary. However, the rebound in economic activity four quarters after the news shock is higher in the recessionary phase than in the expansionary phase. Finally, the state dependent model shows that news shocks have a stronger positive impact on consumption expenditures and residential investment in the recession phase than in the expansion phase.

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