NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Indirect Tax Initiatives and Global Rebalancing

Chunding Li, John Whalley

NBER Working Paper No. 17919
Issued in March 2012
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI   PE

This paper discusses how joint cross country indirect tax initiatives can be used to achieve global rebalancing. This is potentially an important development for G20 discussions which thus far have centered on exchange rates as the instruments to achieve rebalancing. We suggest that if China and Germany (as major surplus countries) switch their present VAT systems from a destination principle to an origin principle, and the US (as the major deficit country) adopts a VAT on a destination principle VAT, jointly these actions can significantly reduce the three countries' joint imbalances and so contribute to global rebalancing. We use a numerical general equilibrium model with a monetary structure incorporating inside money to capture endogeneity of trade imbalances, and to also investigate the potential impacts of such initiatives. These confirm that VAT structures are not only good for global rebalancing but also the changes we consider are beneficial for welfare and revenue collection. Our research is aimed to inject new ideas to the present global rebalancing debate.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17919

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