Most tax systems create a tax bias toward debt finance. Such debt bias increases leverage and may negatively affect financial stability. This paper models and estimates debt bias in the financial sector, and present novel estimates for investment banks and non-bank financial intermediaries such as finance and insurance companies. We find debt bias to be pervasive, explaining as much as 10 percent of total leverage for regular banks and 20 percent for investment banks, with the effects most pronounced before the global financial crisis. Going forward, debt bias is likely to once again gain prominence as a key driver of leverage decisions, underscoring the importance of policy reform at this juncture.
The recent plunge in oil prices has brought into question the generally accepted view that lower oil prices are good for the United States and the global economy. In this paper, using a quarterly multi-country econometric model, we first show that a fall in oil prices tends relatively quickly to lower interest rates and inflation in most countries, and increase global real equity prices. The effects on real output are positive, although they take longer to materialize (around four quarters after the shock). We then re-examine the effects of low oil prices on the U.S. economy over different sub-periods using monthly observations on real oil prices, real equity prices and real dividends. We confirm the perverse positive relationship between oil and equity prices over the period since the 2008 financial crisis highlighted in the recent literature, but show that this relationship has been unstable when considered over the longer time period of 1946–2016. In contrast, we find a stable negative relationship between oil prices and real dividends which we argue is a better proxy for economic activity (as compared to equity prices). On the supply side, the effects of lower oil prices differ widely across the different oil producers, and could be perverse initially, as some of the major oil producers try to compensate their loss of revenues by raising production. Taking demand and supply adjustments to oil price changes as a whole, we conclude that oil markets equilibrate but rather slowly, with large episodic swings between low and high oil prices.
This Selected Issues paper discusses the potential fiscal impact of a large-scale gas project and explores aspects of macro-fiscal management of the associated revenue flow. The chapter also provides background and context focusing on recent offshore natural gas discoveries. The paper also describes features of the current petroleum fiscal regime in Tanzania and will present tentative simulations of the fiscal impact of a potential gas project. A string of natural gas discoveries in Tanzania’s deep offshore waters have generated considerable expectations. The outlook for natural gas in Tanzania is positive, albeit still highly uncertain. If major revenues are obtained and put to fruitful use, they could have a transformational impact on the economy. At the same time, expectations need to be tempered by the remaining uncertainty about the eventual size of the gas resources; no company has yet made a final investment decision involving the deep offshore gas reserves. This uncertainty will hopefully diminish in the next few years.