Adam Smith critiques the Deficit Reduction Commission

What would Adam Smith have said about the Bowles-Simpson economic report last week? What a pity the great free marketer was not around to serve on the Deficit Reduction Commission. He not only would have rolled over in his grave, he would have risen up wielding an ax to the fiscal proposals that are diametrically opposite to the fiscal principles that he and his original free market contemporaries urged. Writing in the wake of the French Physiocrats with their Impôt Unique to collect the revenues that France’s landed aristocracy drained from the countryside and towns, Smith endorsed the idea that the least burdensome tax was one that fell on land rent: A more equal land-tax, a more equal tax upon the rent of ...

The Land-Residual vs. Building-Residual Methods of Real Estate Valuation

By Permalink

Some Prefatory Remarks to the N.Y.U. Real Estate Institute discussion, Oct. 25, 2001 Economic theory focuses on labor and capital, yet the largest category of tangible assets is not industrial plant and machinery earning profits, but real estate, and its primary objective is to make capital gains. Most new entries into the Forbes or Fortune lists of the richest men consist of real estate billionaires, or similar individuals coming from the fuels and minerals industries or natural monopolies. Those who have not simply inherited long-standing family fortunes have gained their wealth by borrowing money to buy assets that have soared in value. The Federal Reserve Board publishes an annual balance sheet of the economy’s assets and liabilities showing real estate to comprise ...

From Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital

By , Permalink

As published in Critique, based on a presentation given at the China Academy of Sciences, School of Marxist Studies in Beijing in November 2009, and at the Left Forum in New York City, March 20, 2010. Classical economists developed the labor theory of value to isolate economic rent, which they defined as the excess of market price and income over the socially necessary cost of production (value ultimately reducible to the cost of labor). A free market was one free of such “unearned” income – a market in which prices reflected actual necessary costs of production or, in the case of public services and basic infrastructure, would be subsidized in order to make economies more competitive. Most reformers accordingly urged – ...

China's Policy Checkmate

By , , Permalink

Interview with Xulin Dong May 2010 DX: You have strongly advocated the use of taxation as a most effective and desirable way to prevent real-estate bubble. Now in the Chinese media there’s a good deal of discussion about the need to re-design China’s real-estate tax regime. In particular, about the merit of a US type of property tax. So what are the key elements of a good real-estate regime? MH: For starters, there is confusion about just what a “land tax” is. China has a policy of granting long-term leases, for up to 70 years for residential property. The price charged for these leases is NOT a land tax. It gives security of land title – that is, of land tenure. On the ...