Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Economics

Major Professor

Mohammed Mohsin

Committee Members

William Fox, Matthew Murray, Phillip Daves

Abstract

Investigating various fiscal policy issues in the context of an open economy, this dissertation consists of three essays.

The first essay addresses the question of the volatility of foreign aid and its impact on resource-constrained developing economies. A small open-economy business cycle model is developed that accounts for the effect of external shocks specific to developing economies. The model produces business cycle patterns consistent with the data and key stylized facts. The model is calibrated to reflect the structural empirical regularities of an aid-dependent developing country. The parameters of the exogenous stochastic shocks are estimated using Bayesian methods and 50 years of data for Cote d'Ivoire. The results suggest that foreign aid’s unpredictability helps explain business cycles’ volatility in developing countries.

In the second essay, a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model (DSGE) is used to analyze the effects of fiscal stimuli, such as investment tax credits (ITC) and wage subsidies, in a small open economy. Various cost-equivalent fiscal schemes are considered in response to an economic downturn. The baseline open-economy model’s results are also contrasted with a closed economy case to highlight the role the current account plays during recession and recovery episodes. The results suggest that wage subsidies have faster but shorter effects on production and employment while ITCs have slower but longer lasting impacts. The persistence of fiscal shocks appears to play a significant role in the initial response of investment.

The third essay provides empirical evidence to address a question heavily debated among lawmakers yet hardly ever investigated in the empirical literature: Does increasing taxes on the rich hurt or help employment growth? Proponents of tax hikes on the rich reject the idea that such taxes, which some refer to as “millionaire” taxes, have any negative impact on jobs. Critics, on the other hand, believe taxing the rich, whom they consider “job creators,” hurts the economy by hampering job creation. Using newly constructed time series based on the IRS Statistics of Income, this study finds strong and statistically significant positive effects in the short run and some evidence of negative effects in the long run.

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