Thursday, July 13, 2017

It all depends on how you look at it

The New York Mets must be the best team in baseball.  They have an All-Star outfielder whom their manager doesn't even plan to play.

Somehow it doesn't sound as good if you say that they have a manager who doesn't even plan to play their All-Star outfielder.

Speaker schedule for 2018 NYU Tax Policy Colloquium

We now have a tentative speaker schedule for the 2018 NYU Tax Policy Colloquium, which I will be co-teaching with Lily Batchelder. We'll be meeting on Tuesdays, from 4:10 to 6 pm, in Vanderbilt 208 (our usual room).  It goes like this:

1.  Tuesday, January 16 – Greg Leiserson.Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
2.  Tuesday, January 23 – Peter Dietsch, University of Montreal Philosophy Department.
3.  Tuesday, January 30 – Andrew Hayashi, University of Virginia Law School.
4.  Tuesday, February 6 – Gerald Auten, U.S. Treasury Department.

5.  Tuesday, February 13 – Vanessa Williamson, Brookings Institution.
6.  Tuesday, February 27 – Jacob Goldin, Stanford Law School.
7.  Tuesday, March 6 – Lisa Phillips, Osgoode Hall Law School.
8.  Tuesday, March 20 – Michelle Hanlon, MIT Sloan School of Management.
9.  Tuesday, March 27 – Damon Jones, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

10.  Tuesday, April 3 – Ajay Mehrotra, American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University School of Law.
11.  Tuesday, April 10 – Jason Furman, Harvard Kennedy School.
12.  Tuesday, April 17 – Emily Satterthwaite, University of Toronto Law School.
13.  Tuesday, April 24 – Wolfgang Schon, Max Planck Institute.
14.  Tuesday, May 1 – Joshua Blank, NYU Law School.

Leaving aside the horror of its being winter again at the time when the colloquium starts - and that will have happened anyway by then, colloquium or no colloquium - I'm looking forward to 14 interesting and diverse papers and discussions, and to another great semester.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Travel reading

The amount I read for pleasure on my travels was reduced by my also needing to read papers that were being presented, while also polishing my presentations and working on my literature book. But, during the Mexico City and Oxford trips, I did get to read most of (1) Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah, and (2) Henry Blake Fuller's With the Procession.

In Americanah, it's a bit depressing from the perspective of 2017 to read about the characters' response to Obama's election and inauguration. But it's a really excellent work of both narrative fiction and sociology. A friend suggested that I consider it for my literature book, in which I'm not absolutely set on all of my current-era choices. But while it deals with class, and while I ought to deal with U.S. race-class interactions at some point, I don't see it as sufficiently directed at my particular interests in the book (as distinct from, as an American living in our society today).

With the Procession was published by Fuller in 1894 and is set in Gilded Age Chicago. I had decided, after initial inquiry well short of a full read, not to include it among my 3 U.S. Gilded Age chapters (which will deal in turn with Twain & Warner's The Gilded Age, Dreiser's The Financier and The Titan, and Wharton's House of Mirth). But it's sharply satiric and quite good, and certainly makes the list of the next 3 that I would have done from this era if I were spending more chapters on it (the others being William Dean Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham, which I like but don't love, and Booth Tarkington's quite interesting The Magnificent Ambersons).

For those who might be interested, With the Procession is available as a free Kindle download from Amazon, although for some reason it can be hard to find in this format on their website.

Comments on the EC state aid cases at the Oxford Summer Conference

On Friday I spoke at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's Summer Conference. This is a public event with a large audience, discussing matters of general tax policy interest, as distinct from the academic conference earlier in the week, which focuses on attendees' works in progress.

I discussed the EC state aid cases, with particular reference to the Apple-Ireland case, on a panel that was more generally focused on issues of tax uncertainty. My slides are available here. They're different and I think better than the slides I posted a few weeks ago when I discussed the same topic at a conference in Luxembourg. They generally aim to be balanced, fair, and above-the-fray.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Some photos and an odd fact

From a Liverpool Beatles tour that I did today, in between yesterday's end of the Oxford academic symposium and tomorrow's one-day Oxford summer conference:

1) Here's where Julia Lennon was killed in July 1958 by a bus, moments after saying goodbye to John at the Mendips house where he was living with his Aunt Mimi.

2) On a more cheerful note, this is Strawberry Fields. And here's an odd fact: according to my guide, when Mimi would tell John that he'd get in trouble for climbing over the wall to spend time here (which he did around the back, not at the front gate), he'd reply: "They won't hang me for it, you know." The guide suggests that this is (part of?) what he had in mind when he wrote the line "Nothing to get hung about."
3) And here's the Penny Lane roundabout. There's also a barber shop and bank nearby, both apparently the same storefronts but extensively remodeled since back in the day.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Working in the same garden?

Courtesy of the Tax Prog Blog, I note that my old friend Mihir Desai, with whom I co-taught the Tax Policy Colloquium a few times, has published a book entitled "The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return."

From the description, it appears to be quite different from my literature project, but there is a commonality to our both engaging with the broader liberal arts, etc.  Plus, we have at least one text in common. To quote from what I take to be Mihir's opening:

"... This book is about how the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the poet Wallace Stevens are insightful guides to the ideas of risk and insurance, and how Lizzie Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and Violet Effingham of Phineas Finn are masterful risk managers...."

Excuse me here while I break in for a moment  What's this "Lizzie Bennet"? It's ELIZABETH Bennet. Mihir doesn't know her well enough to call her that. I don't know her well enough to call her that. Quite improper, unless one is one of her intimates. Miss Bennet would be most displeased if she knew.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Comments on Kleinbard's "The Right Tax at the Right Time" (discussing his Dual BEIT proposal)

Today, at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's 2017 Academic Symposium, I was the discussant for a paper by Ed Kleinbard that discusses his business tax reform proposal, the dual BEIT (dual for using the dual income tax to separate capital income from labor income; BEIT for business enterprise income tax).

The slides for my comments are available here. Two quick bottom lines might be (1) I think this proposal deserves to be on the agenda when people discuss business tax reform, and (2) for all of the various proposals out there, it's analytically useful to decompose them a bit into their multiple components.

Two acronyms in the slides that I didn't explain because I knew they would be covered in Ed's presentation are (1) COCA = cost of capital allowance (allowed to businesses on their assets inline of any actual interest deductions, and (2) PCO = participating controlling owner (who the proposal taxes on suspected labor income that has been retained at the entity level rather than being paid out as salary).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Tax Scholarship, Illustrative Examples" panel at LSA

Today at the Law and Society Association's Annual Meeting, in Mexico City, I participated in a very interesting panel entitled "Tax Scholarship, Illustrative Examples."  Thanks to Neil Buchanan and Jennifer Bird-Pollan for arranging it.

My co-panelists were Leandra Lederman, Aja Mehrotra, and Lisa Philipps, and each of us had an entirely distinct topic. Leandra's was the relationship between tax enforcement and voluntary compliance, Ajay's was the rise of the VAT and why the US doesn't have one (with comparison to Japan, which didn't have one until 1989), and Lisa's was the relationship between  tax expenditure analysis and that of budget policy's effects on gender issues. The unifying theme, in part for more junior scholars in our informal LSA tax group, was looking at different directions that scholarship can take and the lessons for people who are in the earlier stages and still figuring out what sorts of things they want to and/or should do.

My talk was based on my literature and high-end inequality project, with particular reference to my Jane Austen chapter "Why Aren't Things Better Than This? Class Relations Within the Top One Percent in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice." But I also touched on the broader panel themes of deciding what sort of scholarship to do, etc.

The slides for my talk are available here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Video of the Tax Reform panel at NYU last week

Here is the video of the tax reform panel at NYU last week. I speak from about 6:20 to 19:15.