Saturday, October 19, 2013

19/10/2013: Debt Bias and Wealth Taxes: Pesky IMF Ideas...


Nasty little bit from the IMF Fiscal Monitor - a box-out on page 49 of the report...


So the IMF basically reminds us that once things get desperate, wealth taxes (err... Irish pensions levy anyone?) or put differently - expropriation of private wealth - can be contemplated...

Reinhart and Rogoff have warned us all about the Financial Repression coming, so no surprise here. What is, however, surprising is the IMF estimate at the end of the box-out. "The tax rates needed to bring public debt to precrisis levels... are sizeable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent of households with positive net wealth".

Give it a thought - 10 percent on average for the euro area... for Ireland? 20%? 30%?.. And, of course, what will that do to households' debt?.. oh, wait, that does not matter in Europe...


Oh, and while on the topic of debt. I wrote recently (here) about the issue of 'debt bias' (incentives to hold debt over equity) in tax systems... Here's a chart from the same report (page 45) showing the impact of eliminating 'debt bias' in tax system on systemic stability of the country financial system:


Of course, Irish policymakers are keen to eliminate the bias - not because it can help repair the systemic instability of our financial system, but because eliminating the bias will increase state yields from debt-funded property loans (via closing of the mortgages interest relief).

Once again, the problem is that of legacy - what do such closures of 'debt bias' do to sustainability of mortgages debt already carried in the system? Once again, no one pays any attention to the issue...
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