NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Juan Carlos Conesa

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Working Papers

February 2014Is It Too Late to Bail Out the Troubled Countries in the Eurozone?
with Timothy J. Kehoe: w19909
In January 1995, U.S. President Bill Clinton organized a bailout for Mexico that imposed penalty interest rates and induced the Mexican government to reduce its debt, ending the debt crisis. Can the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) organize similar bailouts for the troubled countries in the Eurozone? Our analysis suggests that debt levels are so high that bailouts with penalty interest rates could induce the Eurozone governments to default rather than reduce their debt. A resumption of economic growth is one of the few ways that the Eurozone crises can end.
November 2007Modeling Great Depressions: The Depression in Finland in the 1990s
with Timothy J. Kehoe, Kim J. Ruhl: w13591
This paper is a primer on the great depressions methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999, 2007) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002, 2007). We use growth accounting and simple dynamic general equilibrium models to study the depression that occurred in Finland in the early 1990s. We find that the sharp drop in real GDP over the period 1990-93 was driven by a combination of a drop in total factor productivity (TFP) during 1990-92 and of increases in taxes on labor and consumption and increases in government consumption during 1989-94, which drove down hours worked in Finland. We attempt to endogenize the drop in TFP in variants of the model with an investment sector and with terms-of-trade shocks but are unsuccessful.
January 2007Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!
with Sagiri Kitao, Dirk Krueger: w12880
In this paper we quantitatively characterize the optimal capital and labor income tax in an overlapping generations model with idiosyncratic, uninsurable income shocks, where households also differ permanently with respect to their ability to generate income. The welfare criterion we employ is ex-ante (before ability is realized) expected (with respect to uninsurable productivity shocks) utility of a newborn in a stationary equilibrium. Embedded in this welfare criterion is a concern of the policy maker for insurance against idiosyncratic shocks and redistribution among agents of different abilities. Such insurance and redistribution can be achieved by progressive labor income taxes or taxation of capital income, or both. The policy maker has then to trade off these concerns against the st...
January 2005On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code
with Dirk Krueger: w11044
This paper computes the optimal progressivity of the income tax code in a dynamic general equilibrium model with household heterogeneity in which uninsurable labor productivity risk gives rise to a nontrivial income and wealth distribution. A progressive tax system serves as a partial substitute for missing insurance markets and enhances an equal distribution of economic welfare. These beneficial effects of a progressive tax system have to be traded off against the efficiency loss arising from distorting endogenous labor supply and capital accumulation decisions. Using a utilitarian steady state social welfare criterion we find that the optimal US income tax is well approximated by a flat tax rate of 17.2% and a fixed deduction of about $9,400. The steady state welfare gains from a funda...

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