The paper provides estimates of the long-run, tax-adjusted, user cost elasticity of capital (UCE) in a small open economy, exploiting three sources of variation in Canadian tax policy: across provinces, industries, and years. Estimates of the UCE with Canadian data are less prone to the endogeneity problems arising from the effects of tax policy changes on the interest rate or on the price of capital equipment. Reductions in the federal corporate income tax rate during the early 2000s for service industries but not for manufacturing, which already benefited from a preferential tax rate, contribute to the identification of the UCE. To capture the long-run relationship between the capital stock and the user cost of capital, an error correction model (ECM) is estimated. Supplementary results are obtained from a distributed lag model in first differences (DLM). With the ECM, our baseline UCE for machinery and equipment (M&E) is -1.312. The corresponding semi-elasticity of the stock of M&E with respect to the METR is about -0.2, suggesting, for example, that a 5 percentage point reduction in the METR, say from 15 to 10 percent, would in the long run generate an increase of 1.0 percent in the stock of M&E. The UCE for non-residential construction is statistically insignificantly different from zero.
The fiscal policy stance continues to be appropriate, facilitating a reduction in public debt. Seychelles has made a good start on its second stage of reforms under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF)-supported program, despite a difficult international environment, showing strong resilience to the double crisis it confronted. The economy is reaping the benefits of strong macroeconomic stabilization policies. Seychelles remains highly exposed to external shocks. Progress on the ambitious program of tax and public finance management reform is encouraging, but important steps still lie ahead.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi, Mr. Dennis P Botman, and Mr. Manmohan S. Kumar
We use the IMF's Global Fiscal Model to evaluate recent proposals to reform social security and the tax system in the United States. Introducing personal retirement accounts is unlikely to yield significant macroeconomic benefits unless it spurs additional fiscal consolidation to prevent a large increase in government debt. Similar benefits are obtained if the social security surplus is placed in a lockbox while maintaining the same debt target. Lowering the taxation of investment income is beneficial, but only if the reform is revenue neutral. Debtneutral social security and tax reform in the United States has large positive effects on the rest of the world.
This Selected Issues paper on the United States examines the effect of the structure of the mortgage market on real housing activity and housing prices. The market-based financial structure has reduced the volatility of mortgage lending. Changes in the structure of the mortgage market have coincided with lower volatility of real housing activity. Regional income growth and unemployment rates have statistically significant and correct signed effects on housing prices. Tests of the relative importance of mortgage market structure and macroeconomic variables suggest an important effect from the financial structure.
This Selected Issues paper for Canada presents comprehensive and broad-based analysis of the role of domestic and external shocks. Canada’s economic history illustrates the important role played by external as well as domestic macroeconomic disturbances. Canada’s economy slowed in 2001 because of the global slowdown, although by less than in many other countries. In 2003, the recovery has been interrupted by a series of shocks that moderated growth. Fluctuations in Canadian real GDP are explained by external and domestic cycles.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the major factors that may have contributed to the marked widening of the external current account imbalance in Greece since the mid-1990s, with the deficit reaching one of the highest levels (in relation to GDP) among advanced economies. The factors reviewed include developments in relative cost and other competitiveness indicators, business cycle asynchronization, and idiosyncratic supply shocks and immigration. Potential implications of euro area entry are discussed, in particular the impact of declining interest rates in the context of monetary union.