Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Not many blog entries lately, because in summer my engagements reduce sufficiently that I'm not distracted and running from one thing to another. Instead, I can focus at work on my writing, and my energy goes into that. I'm nearly done with chapter 2 (not counting a short intro chapter) of a book on U.S. international taxation that I'm fairly enthused about, in that I feel it will contain new insights and advance the debate. Not that anyone will accept them or anything, but still. A few will possibly see the merits.

My most recent book, Decoding the U.S. Corporate Tax, didn't center on bringing new insight to the practical issues in the field because they haven't engaged me as deeply. Instead, its prime strength is in explaining how and why the rich but under-appreciated economic literature in the area is important, and why none of it really fits (which is the lawyers' fault, not the economists). I do feel this makes the book valuable, as well as often fun to read. But in international tax the practical policy questions engage me more and I feel the theoretical literature has to a greater extent fallen short.

Anyhow, some other random notes. Tonight I attended (most of) an Elvis Costello concert on his country & bluegrass tour. Enjoyable, professional, nice band and sound, seems at this stage an amiable raconteur. I'd never seen him before, but I'll swear by his first 4 albums (plus Spike to a lesser extent). These days, a bit literalist and lacking in poetry as a writer. And almost the only songs I recognized were Blame It On Cain and the Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale. Still, nice to have seen him.

On a completely different subject, I'd meant to post a link to Greg Mankiw's recent co-authored paper that offers a nice little summary of the optimal income tax literature. So here it is. Next time I'm teaching a basic tax policy class I may well assign it, and people who want an intro to the field may find it useful. I had been waiting to have the chance to post a corrected link to an old paper of mine that discusses some related ideas, and that more or less started a micro-genre in the legal tax policy literature on endowment taxation. So here that is. I found to my surprise that this link has a problem - the paper as posted is lacking two charts that may help in understanding the discussion, as well as the bibliography. I'm trying to post a corrected version but it's not up yet. Better the posted one than nothing, I suppose.

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