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An Empirical Assessment of Global Capital Productivity

Autor: Julia Knolle and Kai Lehmann
Nummer: 574, Apr 2016, pp. 15
JEL-Class: D24, E22, E43

Abstract:
Does the world experience a secular decline in capital productivity? Due to the long-run downward trend in interest rates, some economists do think so. However, this reasoning equates capital productivity with interest, which is a critical assumption. This paper presents a new proxy that can be used to estimate capital productivity. It is based on weighted average cost of capital (WACC), which are employed by firms in their investment appraisals as a benchmark return. The paper uses an original WACC data set for many OECD countries and for the time period 2000-2015. Data are adjusted for tax distortions and expected inflation. The principle finding is that the data do not indicate a long-run decline in capital productivity.

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