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The White House's Trade Policies and the Economy

A recent CNBC article by John Harwood, Peter Navarro says Trump’s trade policies are ‘good for the market,’ but economists aren’t buying it, applies two Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) studies on the effects of tax cuts by industry and the probable effects of a trade war. The author analyzes the possibility that recent administration actions increasing protectionist measures would slow economic growth.

Incentives and Corporate Tax Cuts

Justin Wolfers’ New York Times article, "How to Think About Corporate Tax Cuts" analyzes the economic effects of President Trump’s corporate tax cuts and references Kent Smetters of Penn Wharton Budget Model. While the tax bill promises to increase the incentive to invest and gives companies more cash, Smetters argues that in the short run giving more money to corporations helps the owners.

The Effect on Households of Different Methods of Financing a UBI

To evaluate the potential effects of a hypothetical $1.5 trillion Universal Basic Income (UBI) program, PWBM conducts analyses of the program under three different financing policies. Each of the three financing options has different effects on household savings, consumption, and labor decisions, which leads to significantly different effects on the aggregate economy and household welfare.

Indexing Capital Gains to Inflation

Richard Rubin of the Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration is considering changing tax law so that capital gains would be adjusted for inflation. Under current policy, households owe taxes on the full nominal value of certain capital gains; this proposal would index the asset basis to inflation, leaving only the real value of any capital gain as taxable income. Our analysis suggests that this policy would cost $102 billion dollars over the next decade. While high-income households would benefit most, the share of taxes paid by AGI would not change meaningfully.

Recent Immigrants Are Better-Educated Than Ever Before

From 1997 to 2007, a newly arrived adult immigrant to the United States was about as likely to have a college degree as to have not finished high school. During that period, each group accounted for about one third of new arrivals (including both legal and unauthorized immigrants). Over the decade since 2007, those odds changed dramatically. The share of recent immigrants with a college degree grew by nearly 50 percent, while the share without a high school degree fell by a similar proportion (see Figure 1). By 2017, a recently arrived immigrant was almost three times as likely to have a college degree as to have not finished high school.

The Impact of a Trade War Could Wash Out Tax Cuts

A CNNMoney story, “Trade War Would Wipe Out Gains From Tax Cuts, Penn Analysis Says,” applies two Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) studies on trade and tax cuts. Patrick Gillespie points out that two of President Trump’s policies could have opposing effects on economic growth. If the new tariffs announced by President Trump lead to an all-out trade war, gains from the tax cuts could be washed away in the short run and swamped in the long run.

Wage Growth and Tax Cuts by Industry

A recent Bloomberg article by Mark Whitehouse, “Are Tax Cuts Driving Raises? It's Hard to See,” cites a Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) study about the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by Industry. The author analyses recent reports of wage growth to see if they are related to the tax bill passed this fall.

PWBM Infrastructure Analysis has Impact on White House

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Erin Arvedlund digs into recent a recent post from the White House about PWBM’s analysis of the White House infrastructure plan and PWBM’s response. “War of Words Between Wharton and Trump White House,” compares the White House’s statement that PWBM lacks transparency with the model equations and methods made available by PWBM. PWBM is excited to see the White House engage with our work and we look forward to further discussion.

A Response to the White House’s Critique of PWBM’s Infrastructure Analysis

Last Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was asked in Senate testimony to respond to PWBM’s recent analysis of President Trump’s FY 2019 infrastructure plan. On Friday, the White House issued a formal response that is critical of PWBM’s analysis.

To quickly recap, the President’s infrastructure plan proposes that the federal government spend $200 billion in incentives to produce $1.5 trillion in total additional infrastructure spending across state and local governments, including private sector partnerships. PWBM analysis of the President’s plan estimates that total infrastructure spending, across all layers of government, would increase between $20 billion to $230 billion, including the $200 billion federal investment. We also estimate that this spending would have little impact on GDP.

Trump Infrastructure Plan Falls Short of Its Goal

A recent CNBC article by John W. Schoen, “Trump infrastructure plan comes up $1 trillion short of its funding goal, analysis finds”, discusses the President’s newly proposed infrastructure plan. Analysis by PWBM shows that the plan will fall more than $1 trillion short of its investment goal.

Will President Trump’s Plan Stimulate State Spending on Infrastructure?

New York Time’s reporter Jim Tankersley analyzes PWBM’s predictions for President Trump’s infrastructure plan. "Experts Doubt Trump's Infrastructure Plan Will Boost Economy," compares and further explores the implications of the differences between Mr. Trump's promises and PWBM's forecast.

Design Matters for Infrastructure Plan Outcomes

For Teen Workers, Parents’ Education Matters

Teenage employment has declined significantly since the late 1990s. Using data from the Current Population Survey, Figure 1 shows that 63 percent of teens aged 16 to 18 worked in 1993, but that percentage fell to 41 by 2015.

Listen to a Discussion of President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

Knowledge@Wharton features PWBM research in an article about President Trump’s infrastructure plan. The article also includes research from Virginia Tech’s Kevin Heaslip and Duke’s Henry Petroski.

A Discussion of the White House FY 2019 Budget

In a recent podcast and article “The White House Budget: What’s the Reality” by Knowledge@Wharton, the latest budget proposal by the White House was discussed by Kent Smetters (Wharton), Alan Auerbach (UC Berkeley), and David Kamin (NYU).

WEMBA Panel - Federal Tax Reform

The Wharton Executive MBA (WEMBA) program will be hosting a panel discussion on the recent federal tax reform and how it might affect businesses, which will feature our Faculty Director, Kent Smetters, along with two leading tax experts.

Though the event is only open to WEMBA students, we will live stream the discussion on our page for the event for anyone interested in watching. A recording will also be made available on that page after the event.

Date: Today, 2/16/18
Time: 12:30pm - 1:50pm
Live Stream: http://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/events-1/2018/2/16/federal-tax-reform-wemba-panel

Education and Income Growth

In the New York Times article “Why Is It So Hard for Democracy to Deal with Inequality?” Thomas B. Edsall relates the growth of income inequality in democracies to changes in voting patterns among those who are highly educated.

PWBM’s brief, “Education and Income Growth” was used to highlight that the incomes of highly educated people are growing in comparison to those with less education. The author finds that this trend motivates highly educated voters to support the continuation of current policy rather than policy reforms favorable to the working class.

Will federal dollars for infrastructure boost the economy?

The news blasts about America’s crumbling infrastructure are hard to miss. Data available at USAFacts shows that in 2015, 14 percent of America’s bridges were functionally obsolete and another 10 percent were structurally deficient. Meanwhile, in 2014, commuters spent an extra 42 hours stuck in traffic. 

The White House proposes to spend $200 in new federal money that it hopes will subsidize an addition $1.3 trillion in new infrastructure spending by state and local government and private enterprises.

But will those dollars achieve a high speed economy with higher wages and GDP? Our new report, Options for Infrastructure Investment: Dynamic Analysis, finds that it depends.

Data-Based Policy Analysis

PWBM is built in consultation with extensive data sources. A comprehensive list of our data store can be found here.

Economic Matters: An Introduction

Welcome to PWBM’s Blog, Economic Matters!

In this space, we plan to highlight working papers, discuss interesting facts we find in our data store, our estimation methods, parameters and current events.

Check back in for regular updates.

Click here to receive an email with Economic Matters updates.