August 03, 2018

Cutting taxes by means of inflation adjustment vs. reducing regulatory subsidies to state borrowings?

Sir, Sam Fleming reports “The Treasury has been examining the merits of adjusting capital gains taxes for inflation” “White House push to cut taxes for rich faces thorny obstacles” August 3. 

Fleming points out that the “initiative could cost $100bn or more over 10 years” and “Estimates from the Congressional Research Service suggest as much as 90 per cent of the benefits would go to the top 1 per cent of households.

Steve Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation opines: “It would be good for the economy. This is something we as free market people have been talking about for a long time.”

I am for free-markets, and I defended with great enthusiasm even more extensive inflations adjustments when they were introduced in Venezuela some decades ago, clearly before its current anti-free market regime came to power.

That said I would now use this occasion to ask, are such inflation adjustments, which reduces tax income, really compatible with the 0% risk weight assigned to the quite sizable US debt for the purpose of the capital requirements for banks?

That 0% risk weighting, de facto subsidizes US public debt, and which, on the tune of some 21 trillion in debt, could easily represent $100bn or more over 10 years.

If I were to choose, both from fairness and a free market perspective, I would much rather cut the bank credit distortions in favor of the sovereign than the inflation adjustment.

Just for a starter that would allow all to see better what the real unsubsidized interest rate on government debt is, and that should be useful, except fro those who do not want that to be known. 

PS. With a 0% interest rate, a 2% inflation target, how can regulators argue a 0% risk weight for a sovereign? That is of course unless they are from Venezuela or Zimbabwe, and only think of honoring public debts in nominal terms with the printing machine.