News
Dos equips d'investigació de l'IEB, distingits amb les beques del programa RecerCaixa
Friday, 24 February 2017

El programa RecerCaixa, que impulsa investigacions científiques amb vocació social, ha atorgat dues de les seves ajudes als investigadors de l'IEB, José García de Quevedo i Pilar Sorribas. La institució aconsegueix així dues de les 18 beques pel desenvolupament, durant els propers dos anys, d'estudis sobre els reptes polítics i socials a encarar a causa del canvi climàtic i sobre els rols dels actors socials respecte a la corrupció política

La investigació dirigida per García Quevedo portarà per títol 'El repte del canvi climàtic: polítiques per a la transició energètica', i comptarà amb la col·laboració dels investigadors Maria Teresa Costa (IEB), Elisa Trujillo (IEB), Joan Batalla (Funsema i UB) i Xavier Massa (Càtedra de Sostenibilitat Energètica de l'IEB i UB).

El treball es marca com a objectius identificar les dificultats que es troben les empreses per a ser més eficients sense perdre potencial, així com avaluar les polítiques per la transició energètica que s'estan portant a terme a Catalunya i a Espanya. Dos camps encara poc estudiats. 

El projecte de Sorribas, per la seva banda, portarà per títol 'Límits de la corrupció política: mass media, partits polítics, societat civil i ciutadans", i comptarà amb la participació dels investigadors Gianmarco Daniele (IEB), Albert Falcó (UB), Pablo Fernández (UC3), Jordi Muñoz (UB), Sofía Breitenstein (UAB), i Marc Puigmulé (UB). 

La investigació actualitzarà dades existents per mostrar de forma empírica la relació entre escàndols de corrupció i tolerància dels ciutadans, el paper de l'estructura social com a element de dissuasió contra aquestes situacions, el tractament que els mitjans fan sobre aquests casos i la seva parcialitat en la cobertura, les reaccions dels partits polítics davant el sorgiment d'escàndols i l'evolució del suport de l'electoral dels partits amb casos de corrupció.

 

 

 

 
IEB Researchers Oriol Escardíbul and Maite Vilalta appointed to the UB’s governing bodies
Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The recent reorganisation of the governing bodies of the University of Barcelona (UB) has seen the appointment of two members of the Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB). Researcher Oriol Escardíbul has been named Vice-Rector for Finance, a position that depends directly on the Rector, Dr Joan Elias i García, while researcher Maite Vilalta has been appointed Rector's Delegate for Social Action.

Dr Oriol Escardíbul is a Professor in the Department of Public Economics, Political Economy and Spanish Economy at the University of Barcelona and member of the IEB, where he specializes in research on the economics of education, the evaluation of education policy, university finances and cultural economics.

Dr Maite Vilalta works in the same department at the Faculty of Economics and is a member of the IEB, where she undertakes research on fiscal federalism, public aid and regional and local finance.

 
The 5th Symposium of the Chair of Energy Sustainability analyses the social, political and industrial challenges of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources
Tuesday, 14 February 2017

On February 7 last, the Chair of Sustainable Energy at the University of Barcelona brought together prominent names from the international academic community to discuss the challenges facing the future of the energy sector.

Leading researchers from the field of energy economics at universities in Spain, elsewhere in Europe and the US contributed their views on various issues that will shape the agenda of the energy sector, with a particular focus on economic concerns and policy design. The analysis centred on an examination of recent technological developments, new market reconfigurations and goals of sustainability.

Tooraj Jaasb, from Durham University Business School, and Luis Cabral, from New York University, were the keynote speakers at the meeting. Professor Jamasb opened the conference speaking about smart electricity distribution networks (or Smart Grids). During his talk, he argued that new technologies as applied to networks are facilitating the development of new business models. Before this, the Director of the Chair and IEB researcher, María Teresa Costa- Campi, opened the Symposium in an introductory address that emphasized the importance of research for overcoming the challenges faced by the energy sector. Professor Cabral closed the meeting by presenting his analysis of recent academic developments in the field of industrial organization and their application to the energy sector. More specifically, he turned his attention to the analysis of competition in retail markets in areas such as the switching of traders and the costs that these changes may entail.

The first session of talks, entitled ‘Technological Challenges for the Energy Sector’, explored key issues related to economic aspects of technological development in the energy sector. The papers presented discussed the future model of the sector and the importance of energy efficiency, the European Commission’s main commitments for the achievement of sustainability. They also analysed the necessary complementarity between fossil fuels and renewable energies, and the role of emerging technologies to combat greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The second session, entitled ‘Energy Markets’, discussed the new design and possible modifications of markets resulting from the expected introduction of energy systems based on lower fossil fuel shares. Here, papers analysed the market for emission rights (the ETS), emphasizing its impact on the investment decisions of companies developing technologies to combat climate change. They also discussed the need for a flexible system capable of coming to terms with the growing share of renewable energies. In this process of transformation of the energy markets the role of consumers was highlighted, a role that has seen end-users evolve from passive consumers to active participants in the supply of energy and managing their own demand.

Finally, the last session, entitled ‘Energy and Environmental Policy’, placed the emphasis on the regulatory challenges presented by the arrival of a sustainable energy model. These challenges involve both the authorities and society as they seek the optimum balance between energy costs and sustainability. Here, the papers analysed different measures adopted to promote renewable energy in several European countries (Spain, Germany and France) and their impact on consumers. The paper given by Dr Elisa Trujillo-Baute, from the Chair of Sustainable Energy, analysed the impact of European renewable energy regulations on the final price of electricity paid by both industrial and domestic consumers.

The 5th Symposium of the Chair of Energy Sustainability was attended by more than 100 people. The meeting was inaugurated by the Rector of the University of Barcelona, ​​Joan Elías, who was accompanied by the Director of the Barcelona Institute of Economics, ​​Martí Parellada, and the Director of the Chair of Sustainable Energy, María Teresa Costa-Campi.

 
Els reptes del sector energètic, tema central del V Simposi Acadèmic Internacional de la Càtedra de Sostenibilitat Energètica de l’IEB
Tuesday, 31 January 2017

 La Càtedra de Sostenibilitat Energètica de l’IEB celebra, el proper dimarts 7 de febrer, el seu V Simposi Acadèmic Internacional sota el títol ‘Challenges for the Energy Sector’, en el que quinze investigadors analitzaran els principals reptes de futur que enfronta el sector energètic, centrant-se en l’àmbit econòmic i del disseny de polítiques. La trobada servirà per examinar els últims desenvolupaments tecnològics del sector, la nova configuració dels mercats i els objectius de futur del sector energètic en matèria de sostenibilitat.

L’investigador de la Durham University Business School, Tooraj Jamasb, i el professor de la New York University, Luís Cabral, seran els principals ponents de la jornada. El professor Jamasb serà l’encarregat d’obrir les sessions, amb una presentació en la que parlarà sobre les xarxes intel·ligents de distribució elèctrica i els nous models de negoci per països en desenvolupament. La seva xerrada arribarà després de la presentació de la jornada a càrrec de la directora de la Càtedra i investigadora de l’IEB, María Teresa Costa Campi. Per la seva banda, el professor Cabral tancarà la jornada analitzant les últimes novetats en l’àmbit de l’organització industrial i la seva aplicació al sector energètic.

La primera taula, ‘Reptes tecnològics al sector energètic’, serà l’espai d’anàlisi sobre les necessitats tecnològiques que requereix el sector energètic per a facilitar la transició cap a un model econòmic menys depenent de les energies fòssils. A través de tres presentacions, es mostraran els resultats de l’impacte de l’efecte rebot en la millora de l’eficiència energètica, la interacció en l’ús de combustibles fòssils i energies renovables, i l’anàlisi econòmic d’una de les tecnologies que més reptes presenta, com és la captura i emmagatzematge de carboni.

La taula ‘Energia i mercats’ estarà dedicada al disseny i modificacions dels mercats que provoca la implantació de sistemes energètics amb una menor incidència de recursos fòssils. En aquesta segona taula l’objecte d’examen seran els mercats, que creixen en l’àmbit dels serveis de gestió de la demanda per abastir de flexibilitat el sistema i oferir avantatges en termes de sostenibilitat. D’altra banda, els mercats d’emissions de CO2 i el seu rol en el desenvolupament tecnològic també seran analitzats.

Finalment, l’última taula titulada ‘Energia i política mediambiental’ plantejarà els reptes reguladors i polítics que presenta l’arribada a un model energètic sostenible. Reptes que impliquen tant a les autoritats com a la societat per a intentar trobar l’equilibri òptim entre el cost de l’energia i el grau de sostenibilitat. Per fer-ho, s’analitzaran diverses mesures per a la promoció de les renovables en diferents països (Espanya, Alemanya i França), i el seu impacte en els consumidors.

El V Simposi de la Càtedra de Sostenibilitat Energètica començarà a les 8:00 i es celebrarà a l’Auditori del Parc Científic de Barcelona (Universitat de Barcelona).

 
The impact of big-boxes stores opening over the cities commerce, under analysis in the last INFO-IEB
Monday, 02 January 2017

 The IEB researcher Maria Sánchez-Vidal is the author of the last issue of INFO-IEB, entitled ‘Are big-box stores emptying the city centre?’, which analyses the impact of the opening of large malls over the stores in the cities centres.  

The text, based on the paper ‘Small shops for sale! The effects of big-box opening on grocery stores’, shows how the most affected sector by the opening of these malls is food. According to the study, between 20% and 30% of the stores located in the centre of cities disappear during the four years following the opening of a big-box.  

On the other hand, the same research show that 70% of local grocery stores closed were replaced by other small businesses. 

Download the last issue of INFO-IEB

 
The IEB researcher, Gianmarco Daniele, awarded the Juan de la Cierva fellowship
Monday, 12 December 2016

The IEB researcher Gianmarco Daniele has been one of the postdoctoral researchers who has won the Juan de la Cierva fellowship, which is granted every year by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness to promote research and the promotion of the projects of the new doctors . The duration of the scholarship is two years and has an endowment of € 25,000 for each of them.

Since Daniele started his work at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UB and at the IEB in 2015, he has focused his research on the analysis of organized crime in Italy, the organization of political dynasties in municipal and state governments and in the relationship between family clans and social capital. Currently, Daniele investigates the system of the informal economy in India through the activity of street vendors. The Juan de la Cierva scholarship will serve to expand the field of research of the project.

 

 
How can we finance our pensions?
Thursday, 24 November 2016

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One in four people in Spain today are pensioners, and at the current rate of ageing this ratio is set to rise in the coming years. The pension system as it now operates will be unable to keep pace with this demographic change. In awareness of this, the Government has recently introduced two reform measures: the first, in 2011, gradually increased the retirement age from 65 to 67; and, the second, in 2013, introduced a new pension revaluation system. The Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB) has published a new IEB Report entitled, “How can we finance our pensions?”, in which three experts analyze the consequences of these reforms and propose further reforms aimed at safeguarding the viability of Spain’s pension system.

The latest reform helps make the system more sustainable, but in a way that is inefficient and unjust since all the impact is borne by the pensioners. As soon as the European Central Bank achieves its target of 2% inflation, pensioners will lose 1.75% of their purchasing power each year. That is, with this mechanism, the current system provides a pension with a declining purchasing power over time, so that 20 years after retirement a pensioner will be able to buy between 30 and 40% fewer goods and services than in the year they retired", warns José Ignacio Conde-Ruiz, Professor of Foundations of Economic Analysis at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Deputy Director of the Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada (FEDEA).  

Boulhol and Reilly, OECD economists and experts in pensions, outline in their contribution to the IEB report the two most frequently adopted systems for financing pensions: the redistributive model, which guarantees the same minimum pension – or ‘first tier’ pension – to any person over a certain age and which is usually supplemented with private pension schemes; and, the contributory model (the one applied in Spain), in which the pension an individual receives depends on the contributions they have made to the system.

 

In his article, José María Durán-Cabré, IEB researcher, notes that when a contributory system, such as the one operated in Spain, runs up a deficit, there are two possible courses of action, depending on the nature of the deficit. “If it is transitory – the result of the economic cycle, then the deficit has to be financed from the surplus accumulated in the expansion phase of the cycle. In Spain, for example, the Social Security Reserve Fund reached almost 66 billion euros in 2011, but by July of this year the figure had fallen to 25 billion. On the other hand, if the deficit is structural, then the contribution-benefit nexus and pension funding have to be reformed”.

 

How can pension revenues be increased in the Spanish system?

In the light of the unsustainability of the pension system in the long term, political parties and social agents have raised the possibility of seeking alternative ways of increasing the funds in the so-called “pensions piggy bank”. In their contributions to the IEB Report, the experts reflect on some of these:

 

Financing part of the pension fund out of tax revenues, such as VAT. This is a measure that political parties and social agents in Spain have studied. However, Conde-Ruiz considers that it does not make much sense if the intention is to maintain the contributory nature of the Spanish pension system. “A contributory pension system ensures that the size of the pension received by the worker depends on the contributions made throughout their working life. In other words, if a worker makes no contributions, they receive no pension, and if the worker contributes little, their pension is low. If a fiscal devaluation is undertaken so that social security contributions are replaced by VAT revenue, what we are in effect doing is funding part of the contributory pensions with VAT. But this breaks with the contributory principle, since a person who has not worked long enough and is not entitled to a contributory pension might claim a pension on the grounds that they are in fact contributing to the pension system via the payment of VAT when they consume”, he points out.

Increasing contributions.Firms typically pay around 30% for social security contributions and workers pay a further 6.35%. These contributions are far and away the largest “tax” in Spain, representing almost 35% of total tax revenues. They represent 11.4% of GDP, half a percentage point more than the EU-15 average”, Duran-Cabré stresses. In view of these figures, it seems unlikely that Spanish society would accept this solution.

Adopting a redistributive system. The state would thereby provide the same minimum pension to all, which would mean dismantling the current system and equalizing all pensions. In this way, pensions would fall markedly and become a subsistence benefit.

 

Among the alternatives for increasing revenues, Conde-Ruiz suggests an intermediate path: switching widowhood pensions to the redistributive system, and so freeing up more resources for contributory pensions. “This path would, in fact, be in line with the full financing of non-contributory universal benefits to be paid for through general revenues. And social security contributions, in keeping with the contributory nature of the Spanish system, would serve solely to finance contributory pensions”, concludes Durán-Cabré in the IEB Report. However, he warns that the cost of these pensions (around 21,000 million euros) would mean an increase in the expenditure that has to be financed by the tax system.

 
The IEB launches the Autonomous Community Financing Map
Monday, 07 November 2016

This Monday, the Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB) published the first edition of the Autonomous Community Financing Map. This infographic map shows how the current autonomous financing system has affected each autonomous community from its introduction in 2009 to 2014, the year for which latest published data are available. By monitoring the three steps taken by the system – taxes ceded prior to equalisation, application of the equalisation mechanism (guarantee fund for essential public services) and the application of three adjustment funds (global sufficiency, competitiveness and cooperation)- the map illustrates the changes in the resources per capita available to each community as different funds have been incorporated into the system.

According to the results for 2014, the three communities losing most resources due to the incorporation of new funds into the financing model are the Community of Madrid, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia. Before the application of the equalisation mechanism and the system’s other funds, Madrid would have received €2,935 per capita from tax revenues. However, after the application of all the funds, Madrid lost 24.26% of this available revenue, leaving it with €2,223 per capita (adjusted). Likewise, the tax revenues received by the Balearic Islands fell from €2,464 to €2,232 per capita, that is, down by 9.42%, while those received by Catalonia fell from €2,449 to €2,221 per capita, a drop of 9.31%, after the incorporation of all the funds in the model.

Indeed, these three communities, along with the Community of Valencia, are the only ones that began with more tax resources than the state average (€2,332 per capita), but which now, following the application of the system, find themselves with less resources than average. In Madrid and Catalonia this situation has repeated itself since 2012 and in the Balearic Islands and Valencia since 2013.


Cantabria, La Rioja and Extremadura: the communities with the most resources

At the other end of the scale we find Cantabria, La Rioja and Extremadura: the autonomous communities with the most resources after the application of the equalisation mechanisms and the adjustment funds. In 2014, Cantabria was the autonomous community with the most resources per capita, with a 23.40% rise (enjoying an increase from €2,308 to €2,848 per capita). In fact, Cantabria has occupied this position since the current financing system was first introduced. La Rioja initially received €2,076 per capita, but this figure rose to €2,687 after the changes in the financing system: an increase of 29.43%.

Extremadura is the community that has benefitted most from the application of the current autonomous financing system. Its available tax resources are up 73.73% from an initial €1,454 to €2,526 per capita following the application of the equalisation mechanism and adjustment funds. In 2014, together with Castilla-La Mancha, Galicia and Castilla y León, these were the only communities that began with less tax resources than the state average, but which now, at the end of the process, find themselves with more resources than average.

“When the model’s equalisation mechanisms are applied, the gap between the richest and poorest communities is narrowed, but in no case do those with more resources end up below the state average. The problem arises when the sufficiency, competitiveness and cooperation adjustment funds are introduced, as these distort the pattern of redistribution, overriding the principle of equity that is at the heart of the model, and creating a system that generates erratic outcomes that are hard to justify”, explained IEB researcher, Maite Vilalta.

A flexible tool of analysis

With the presentation of the Autonomous Community Financing Map, the IEB provides a tool for consulting and analysing the effects of the autonomous financing model, which has been in operation in Spain since 2009. Via the different sections of the website, the user can consult the amount of tax revenues ceded by the central government to each autonomous community, the amount of resources each community receives by participating in the equalisation mechanism (guarantee fund for essential public services) and the amount each obtains from the model’s adjustment funds (sufficiency, competitiveness and cooperation funds).

“The Autonomous Community Financing Map will be updated each year as data become available. The aim is to provide an overview of how the current financing system impacts the resources available to each autonomous community, and to promote debate on reforming the model”, explained IEB Director, Martí Parellada, who also highlighted the past role of the institution in the analysis and study of fiscal federalism.

 
'De nuestros impuestos y su administración' guanya el premi Joan Sardà Dexeus
Thursday, 03 November 2016

El llibre 'De nuestros impuestos y su administración', dirigit per José María Durán i Alejandro Esteller, ha guanyat el premi Joan Sardà Dexeus al treball de més rellevància en l'àmbit de l'economia i l'empresa del darrer any. L'obra recull les contribucions dels acadèmics, responsables de l'administració i professionals de la fiscalitat que van participar en el Fòrum Fiscal 2.0, que va organitzar el IEB amb l'objectiu d'analitzar el funcionament de l’administració fiscal espanyola.

Al llarg de tres capítols -estructurats de forma dual (plantejament i discussió)- s'intenta esbrinar com s'hauria d'adaptar l'administració fiscal espanyola per ser més justa i eficiente. En la cerca de la resposta, es posen sobre la taula preguntes com quin model d'administració fiscal dels països desenvolupats s'adequaria millor al sistema espanyol, o quines eines podrien ser útils per evitar el frau fiscal.

Reflexionen sobre aquests temes José María Durán, Alejandro Esteller, Joel Slemrod, Jonathan Leigh Pemberton, Josep Costa i Solà, Joan Iglesias i Jorge Onrubia.

Aquest llibre forma part de la nova col·lecció Economia UB d'Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, nascuda amb l’objectiu d’incidir en les qüestions fonamentals del debat econòmic actual des de la universitat.

El premi Joan Sardà Dexeus
El guardó, convocat per la Revista Econòmica de Catalunya i atorgat pel Col·legi d'Economistes, es va lliurer el passat 27 d'octubre en el decurs del Sopar dels Economistes. Aquest premi, que també es concedeix a les millors trajectòries professionals en la difusió de l’economia, porta el nom de l’eminent economista Joan Sardà Dexeus (1910-1985), i en edicions anteriors l’han rebut economistes com ara Francesc Cabana, Jordi Maluquer, Guillem López Casanovas, Germà Bel, Antoni Serra Ramoneda, o Núria Bosch, entre d’altres.

 

 
Pierre Magontier and Kinga Tchorzewska, new IEB PhD students
Monday, 24 October 2016

 The IEB counts with two new PhD students: the French Pierre Magontier and the polish Kinga Tchorzewska. Magontier holds a degree in Political Science and obtained a Master in Economics at the Université Catholique de Louvain, with his thesis on migration as a result of climate, urbanization and growth. During his time at the IEB, he will focus his research on the following lines: urban economics, public economics, environmental economics, growth theory and dynamics of migration.

Tchorzewska, meanwhile, has a degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and obtained a Master in Economics and Finance at the University Pompeu Fabra. It has also been research assistant at IESE Business School and a fellow in the department of international cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Polish government. Currently she focus her research on the following lines: energy economics, public economics and development economics.

 
The researcher in the economics of education, Zelda Brutti, joins the IEB
Monday, 17 October 2016

 The postdoctoral researcher, Zelda Bruttih, has recently joined the team or researchers of the IEB. The italian researcher has a PhD in economics from the European University Institute in Florence and has focused his research on the economics of education and development. Some of his previous research topics have been focused on the mixed results of decentralizing public education and the effects of the brothers in cognitive performance, among others.

During his time at the IEB, says the researcher, she will get dipper on the study of the quality of teaching and will initiate new projects to see what is the relationship between the geographic distribution of teachers and educational inequality, and to analyze the effects of the Bologna plan in the labor market.

 

 
 
The IEB opens a new course with the 'VII Workshop on Economics of Education'
Monday, 19 September 2016

"Evaluation of education and training policies'. This was the title of 'VII Workshop on Economics of Education' organized by the IEB, together with the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada, which was held earlier this month at the faculty Economics of the UB. For two days, researchers presented their work focused on the evaluation of public policies on education and its impact in terms of results and innovation. 

The researchers of IEB, Oriol Escardíbul and Jorge Calero, were the coordinators of the event  and presented the 10 papers that were discussed during the two days of the Workshop.

The event also featured two first class guests: the researchers from the University of Bristol, Simon Burgess, who presented the lecture "Using Behavior Incentives to Improve Performance on High Stakes Tests: Evidence from a Field Experiment" and the professor at the University of Milan, Massimiliano Bratti, author of the paper "the Importance of Being 'Right on track': Wrong Choice and Upper Secondary School Grade Retention track."

 
The IEB researcher, Amedeo Piolatto, has been awarded with the Fundació BBVA funding to study the impact of the aggregators on the markets
Friday, 09 September 2016

 The IEB researcher, Amedeo Piolatto, will be one of the 60 benefits of the BBVA Foundation funding dedicated to research, with an investment of up to 40.000 € per project. The budget will be used to study the impact of web aggregators on digital business, consumer welfare and price change on markets.

In his presentation of the research, Piolatto relates how the new engines “allow gather information and disseminate it among the economic agents, even personalized, reducing search costs”. These aggregators improve the results of research, but the impact of their use is still uncertain and is unclear whether these markets should be regulated.

 
The tax rate on multinationals in the EU has fallen from 30% to 19% in the last two decades
Thursday, 21 July 2016

 - The IEB analyses the evolution of corporate taxes in Europe in its latest IEB Report
- Across Europe there is a huge disparity in corporate tax rates, with some countries charging a statutory rate of 10% and others 35%
- Annual losses attributed to tax avoidance strategies are calculated at between 100 and 240 billion dollars

 

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The Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB) has published a new IEB Report, entitled “Taxation, multinationals and foreign direct investment”, in which it analyses the multinational taxation policy of the Member States of the European Union – a policy issue which, as IEB researcher Jordi Jofre-Monseny reminds us in his introduction, “has become an issue of broad social concern”, because of such cases as Apple, Google and Amazon, who “pay surprisingly low tax bills in Spain”. The absence of a single tax has brought about this situation; yet, despite the disparity in the tax rates applied in each country, the overall trend had been to reduce the tax burden on businesses. The economist Valeria Merlo (University of Tübingen) points out in her contribution that “the average statutory corporate tax rate has fallen from 30% in 1996 to 19% in 2014”.

The researcher believes that this downward trend “reflects the attempt of national governments to remain competitive in a context of increased mobility of capital and globalization of multinationals”.

National government policy has brought about a reduction of 11 points in the tax rate over the last 20 years, but at the same time the large differences between the rates fixed in each country have been maintained. “While multinationals face statutory tax rates of 10% and 12.5% in Bulgaria and Ireland, respectively, income is taxed at 35% in Malta and at 33% in France,” Merlo explains (see accompanying figure at the end of this press release).

These differences favour the profit shifting practices of big business that result in “low overall effective tax payments of multinationals (…) at the cost of countries’ tax revenues”. These avoidance strategies have an impact on the amount of corporate taxation being collected. Annual losses are estimated at between 4% and 10%, which represents between 100 and 240 billion dollars a year in uncollected taxes.

 


Reasons for disparity in tax rates

In his contribution to the report, Simon Loretz, researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies, analyses the tax rates being paid by multinationals. In relation to the preferential treatment being offered, he explains that the countries of the EU can no longer openly offer “preferential tax deals to foreign companies”, but that they can make changes in the way they define their tax bases so that the tax burden on highly mobile firms is lower. These measures, however, have no repercussions on immobile domestic enterprises, with few options of opening up new markets abroad, and who continue having to pay higher tax rates.

Loretz believes that maintaining preferential treatment for high-profitability firms “may be optimal in a situation with high tax burden” but when the tax burden is low any further preferential treatment can result in inefficiency and “harmful competition”.

 

The US Model

The IEB Report also includes a contribution from Daniel J. Wilson, researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who analyses how big businesses in the US are taxed. Wilson reminds us that “business tax policies vary tremendously across states”. The first difference concerns the criteria applied to firms with a presence in several states through their subsidiaries. “Some states require each subsidiary with a presence in their state to file a separate tax return and pay taxes on the subsidiary’s taxable profits. Other states require the corporate group to file a single return (…) and other states give corporations the option to file either separate subsidiary returns or a combined return.”

Whatever the criteria applied, the firm ends up apportioning a share of its total business income to the states in which it has a presence in accordance with its “apportionment formula”, calculated as a weighted average of the corporation’s payroll, property and sales in each state.

Tax policies, together with deductions targeting specific business activities, like research, and other tax credits, are critical in the geographical distribution of firms in the United States. Here, Wilson asks whether the system generates an optimal allocation. “The variation across states in business tax burdens causes a suboptimal spatial allocation of business activity (…) a revenue-neutral harmonization of state business tax policy would raise both national GDP and welfare by nearly 1%”, he concludes.

 
Leonzio Rizzo analyzes the double-ballot electoral system in the last INFO IEB
Thursday, 14 July 2016

 Italy it's one of the last countries to incorporate the double-ballot electoral system for its municipal elections. A model already used by countries such as France, Portugal, Finland and Brazil in its presidentials and that has effects not only on the results of the elections, but also in public spending. This is what emerges from the study made by the IEB researcher, Leonzio Rizzo. In his search, Rizzo has assessed the economic impact of model released in Italy, known as italicum.

The peculiarity of the Italian system is that municipalities with more than 15,000 inhabitants work with the double-ballot majority system, while fewer than 15,000 inhabitants do a single round system in which the mayor can only receive the support of one list, which "allows to analyze the impact of the double-ballot about fiscal policy."

"The municipalities with a double-ballot have lower total revenues and current expenditure per capita," says Rizzo. The effect is multiplied if the mayor has the support of a single list and, therefore, has a strong position in the government. In this context, the current cost 44.41 euros per capita is less than a single lap system, which is 7% less than current spending. The difference decreases as the mayor needs more support.

"The result indicates that a simple majority double-ballot electoral system can lead to lower taxes and spending, but if fragmentation is high political the differences fade."

 

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