Little Compelling Evidence?

Greg Ip, in his Monday Wall Street Journal piece on the matter of corporate tax cuts, says that

most of the US’ largest trading partners cut their corporate rates. But their experience offers a reality check. There is little compelling evidence any enjoyed substantially faster growth as a result, and certainly not on the scale of Mr Trump’s ambitions….

He offered some examples:

Britain reduced its corporate rate from 30% in 2007 to 19% now. A 2013 study by the British Treasury predicted the tax cuts since 2010 would eventually boost the level of gross domestic product by 0.6%. That is certainly worth having, but spread out over, say, six years, would boost the growth rate by a barely noticeable 0.1 percentage point.

British investment as a share of GDP is actually lower than before 2007….

But the EU, which included a full-throated Great Britain at the time, suffered even more deeply from the Panic of 2008 than the US, and its “recovery” has been even poorer than ours, albeit Great Britain was one of the nominal leaders of that sham recovery.  Not many of the EU member nations have recovered to their pre-Panic levels.


Canada cut its corporate rate from 28% in 2000 to 21% in 2004. While growth from 2000 to 2004 was about half a percentage point faster than the prior decade, it has since slowed.

A couple of other things contaminate Ip’s thesis that “[t]here is little compelling evidence” that corporate tax rates actually stimulate economic growth. In Great Britain’s and Canada’s cases in particular, and in the EU generally, the presence of VAT taxes (20% for Great Britain, 13% for Canada, similarly high rates for the continental nations of the EU) vastly dilute the impact of a mere corporate income tax cut.

Also, the existence of régimes of heavy regulation in Great Britain, Canada, and in continental EU add costs that heavily dampen the favorable impact of corporate tax cuts.

The small bumps in economic growth that followed those corporate tax cuts came despite those road blocks.

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