Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, one of the nation's leading experts on fiscal policy, national saving, and personal finance and a columnist for Bloomberg, is Professor of Economics at Boston University. His writings and views appear in Forbes, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other leading media outlets.

  • The Clash of Generations

    The Clash of Generations

    Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns

    How America went bankrupt and how we can save ourselves—as a country and as individuals—from economic disaster.

    The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America's insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? InThe Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children. At the same time, we've been on a consumption spree, saving and investing less than nothing. And that's not to mention the evisceration of the middle class and a financial system that has proven it can't be trusted. Kotlikoff and Burns outline grassroots strategies for saving ourselves—and especially our children—from what could be a truly catastrophic financial collapse.

    Kotlikoff and Burns sounded the alarm in their widely acclaimedThe Coming Generational Storm, but politicians didn't listen. Now the need for action is even more urgent. It's up to us to demand radical reform of our tax system, our healthcare system, and our Social Security system, and to insist on better paths to investment return than those provided by Wall Street (mis)managers. Kotlikoff and Burns's "Purple Plans" (so called because they will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats) have been endorsed by a who's who of economists and offer a new way forward; and their revolutionary investment strategy for individuals replaces the idea of financial capital with "life decision capital."

    Of course, we won't be doing all this just for ourselves. We need to fix America's fiscal mess before our kids inherit it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMKw76lBn0k&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99
    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • The Healthcare Fix

    The Healthcare Fix

    Universal Insurance for All Americans

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    A simple, straightforward, and foolproof proposal for universal health insurance from a noted economist.

    The shocking statistic is that forty-seven million Americans have no health insurance. When uninsured Americans go to the emergency room for treatment, however, they do receive care, and a bill. Many hospitals now require uninsured patients to put their treatment on a credit card which can saddle a low-income household with unpayably high balances that can lead to personal bankruptcy. Why don't these people just buy health insurance? Because the cost of coverage that doesn't come through an employer is more than many low- and middle-income households make in a year. Meanwhile, rising healthcare costs for employees are driving many businesses under. As for government-supplied health care, ever higher costs and added benefits (for example, Part D, Medicare's new prescription drug coverage) make both Medicare and Medicaid impossible to sustain fiscally; benefits grow faster than the national per-capita income. It's obvious the system is broken. What can we do?

    In The Healthcare Fix, economist Laurence Kotlikoff proposes a simple, straightforward approach to the problem that would create one system that works for everyone and secure America's fiscal and economic future. Kotlikoff's proposed Medical Security System is not the "socialized medicine" so feared by Republicans and libertarians; it's a plan for universal health insurance. Because everyone would be insured, it's also a plan for universal healthcare. Participants—including all who are currently uninsured, all Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and all with private or employer-supplied insurance—would receive annual vouchers for health insurance, the amount of which would be based on their current medical condition. Insurance companies would willingly accept people with health problems because their vouchers would be higher. And the government could control costs by establishing the values of the vouchers so that benefit growth no longer outstrips growth of the nation's per capita income. It's a "single-payer" plan, but a single payer for insurance. The American healthcare industry would remain competitive, innovative, strong, and private.

    Kotlikoff's plan is strong medicine for America's healthcare crisis, but brilliant in its simplicity. Its provisions can fit on a postcard and Kotlikoff provides one, ready to be copied and mailed to your representative in Congress.

    • Hardcover $4.75 £4.95
  • The Coming Generational Storm

    The Coming Generational Storm

    What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future

    Scott Burns and Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    How to avoid a fiscal crisis in the next generation— and how to protect yourself if the government acts too late: policy recommendations and individual strategies to protect against skyrocketing tax rates, drastically reduced health and retirement benefits, high inflation, and a ruined currency.

    In 2030, as 77 million baby boomers hobble into old age, walkers will outnumber strollers; there will be twice as many retirees as there are today but only 18 percent more workers. How will America handle this demographic overload? How will Social Security and Medicare function with fewer working taxpayers to support these programs? According to Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, if our government continues on the course it has set, we'll see skyrocketing tax rates, drastically lower retirement and health benefits, high inflation, a rapidly depreciating dollar, unemployment, and political instability. The government has lost its compass, say Kotlikoff and Burns, and the current administration is heading straight into the coming generational storm.

    But don't panic. To solve a problem you must first understand it. Kotlikoff and Burns take us on a guided tour of our generational imbalance, first introducing us to the baby boomers—their long retirement years and "the protracted delay in their departure to the next world." Then there's the "fiscal child abuse" that will double the taxes paid by the next generation. There's also the "deficit delusion" of the under-reported national debt. And none of this, they say, will be solved by any of the popularly touted remedies: cutting taxes, technological progress, immigration, foreign investment, or the elimination of wasteful government spending.

    So how can the United States avoid this demographic/fiscal collision? Kotlikoff and Burns propose bold new policies, including meaningful reforms of Social Security, and Medicare. Their proposals are simple, straightforward, and geared to attract support from both political parties. But just in case politicians won't take the political risk to chart a new direction, Kotlikoff and Burns also offer a "life jacket"—guidelines for individuals to protect their financial health and retirement.

    This paperback edition of The Coming Generational Storm has been revised and updated and includes a new foreword by the authors.

    • Hardcover $27.95 £19.95
    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00
  • Generational Policy

    Generational Policy

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    How generational policy affects the sustainability of a government's fiscal policy.

    In these eight 2002 Cairoli Lectures, presented at the Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Laurence Kotlikoff shows how generational policy works, how it is measured, and how much it matters. Kotlikoff discusses the incidence and measurement of generational policy, the relationship of generational policy to monetary policy, and the vacuity of deficits, taxes, and transfer payments as economic measures of fiscal policy. Kotlikoff also illustrates generational policy's general equilibrium effects with a dynamic life-cycle simulation model and reviews the empirical evidence testing intergenerational altruism and risk sharing. The lectures were delivered as Argentina faced a devastating depression triggered, in large part, by unsustainable generational policy. Throughout the book, Kotlikoff connects his messages about generational policy to the Argentine situation and the Argentine government's policy mistakes.

    • Hardcover $6.75 £5.99
  • Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-cycle Planning

    Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-cycle Planning

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    This collection of essays, coauthored with other distinguished economists, offers new perspectives on saving, intergenerational economic ties, retirement planning, and the distribution of wealth. The book links life-cycle microeconomic behavior to important macroeconomic outcomes, including the roughly 50 percent postwar decline in America's rate of saving and its increasing wealth inequality. The book traces these outcomes to the government's five-decade-long policy of transferring, in the form of annuities, ever larger sums from young savers to old spenders. The book presents new theoretical and empirical analyses of altruism that rule out the possibility that private intergenerational transfers have offset those by the government.While rational life-cycle behavior can explain broad economic outcomes, the book also shows that a significant minority of households fail to make coherent life-cycle saving and insurance decisions. These mistakes are compounded by reliance on conventional financial planning tools, which the book compares with Economic Security Planner (ESPlanner), a new life-cycle financial planning software program. The application of ESPlanner to U.S. data indicates that most Americans approaching retirement age are saving at much lower rates than they should be, given potential major cuts in Social Security benefits.

    • Hardcover $12.75 £9.99
  • Macroeconomics, Second Edition

    Macroeconomics, Second Edition

    An Integrated Approach

    Alan J. Auerbach and Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    Many undergraduate texts treat macroeconomics as a set of distinct topics rather than as a unified body of theory and empirical findings. In contrast, this text by Alan Auerbach and Laurence Kotlikoff uses a single analytic framework—the two-period life-cycle model—to explore and connect each of the major issues in contemporary macroeconomics. The model describes the evolution of the economy over time in terms of the behavior of overlapping generations of individuals, each of whom lives for two periods: youth and old age. This versatile framework can encompass most macroeconomic schools of thought through the alteration of key assumptions. The use of one basic model also allows the authors to explore important topics not always addressed adequately in other texts; these include credit constraints, real business cycles, generational accounting, and international capital flows markets.

    Written in a clear, accessible style, this shortened and simplified second edition provides a systematic way to interpret macroeconomic outcomes, to understand various policy proposals, and to appreciate how individuals and firms fit into the big picture.

    • Hardcover $18.75 £14.95
    • Paperback $65.00 £50.00
  • What Determines Savings?

    What Determines Savings?

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    What determines savings? The question is timely and important. The U.S. saving rate is less than half that of Japan, Germany, and other developed countries, and the imbalance in saving rates across countries is responsible, in large part for the imbalance in international trade. This book examines a number of important determinants of wealth accumulation, including retirement bequests, and precautionary saving motives, demographics, the tax structure, social security, and insurance institutions. Using a blend of theory, empirical research and simulation methods, it reaches some surprising conclusions about what determines savings.Kotlikoff notes that most of U.S. wealth is due not to life cycle saving for retirement but rather to bequests and other intergenerational transfers. The process of passing wealth from one generation to the next may be explained, in large part, because of imperfect annuity arrangements.In addition to life span uncertainty, the author points out other types of uncertainty such as uncertainty about future medical expenditures can greatly stimulate saving. Fiscal policies, such as unfunded social security, can dramatically alter a country's wealth, although the process can take many years. Unfortunately, Kotlikoff observes, official fiscal deficits are intrinsically unreliable for measuring the government's stance of fiscal policy. He also concludes that the baby busts currently underway in the United States, Europe, and Japan are likely to improve overall economic welfare despite their detrimental impacts on social security systems.

    • Hardcover $45.00
    • Paperback $58.00 £45.00

Contributor

  • Fundamental Tax Reform

    Fundamental Tax Reform

    Issues, Choices, and Implications

    John W. Diamond and George R. Zodrow

    Leading experts on tax policy examine the complex issues involved in fundamental tax reform, including the relative merits of income-based and consumption-based taxation.

    Reform of the federal income tax system has become a perennial item on the domestic policy agenda of the United States, although there is considerable uncertainty over specifics. Indeed the recent report of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform recommended not one but two divergent policy directions (and included extensive discussion of a third).

    In Fundamental Tax Reform, top experts in tax policy discuss a wide range of issues raised by the prospect of significant tax reform, identifying the most critical questions and considering whether the answers are known, unknown—or unknowable. The debates over tax reform usually concern the advantages and disadvantages of income-based taxation as opposed to any of the several alternative forms of consumption-based taxation. The book opens with chapters that discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and political feasibility of these options. Other chapters consider the effect of tax reform on businesses, especially their investment behavior, and include a discussion of possible problems in any transition to a consumption-based tax; international taxation issues arising in an era of globalization; and individual behavioral response to tax reform, including a view of the topic from the perspective of the relatively new field of behavioral economics.

    Contributors Rosanne Altshuler, Alan J. Auerbach, John W. Diamond, Harry Grubert, Arnold C. Harberger, Kevin A. Hassett, Thomas J. Kniesner, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Edward J. McCaffery, Kathryn Newmark, David Rapson, Daniel Shaviro, Joel Slemrod, James P. Ziliak, George R. Zodrow

    Discussants James Alm, Henry J. Aaron, Charles L. Ballard, Leonard E. Burman, Robert S. Chirinko, Robert D. Dietz, Malcolm Gillis, Roger H. Gordon, Jane G. Gravelle, Timothy S. Gunning, James M. Poterba, Thomas S. Neubig, Alan Viard, George Yin

    • Hardcover $10.75 £8.99
  • Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21

    Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21

    James M. Poterba

    Recent academic research findings on topics relating to taxation and social insurance policy, including the implicit tax imposed by Medicaid on private long-term care insurance benefits, an alternative system of unemployment insurance, and federal energy tax policy.

    This NBER series presents current academic research findings in the areas of taxation and government spending. The papers included provide important background information for policy analysts in government and the private sector without making specific policy recommendations. This twenty-first installment in the series reports on recent research concerning both taxation and social insurance policy. The papers discuss Medicaid's implicit tax on the benefits of private long-term care insurance, an alternative to current unemployment insurance systems, the tax treatment of health insurance expenditures, the effective marginal tax rates on labor supply and saving, and the rationale for and effect of energy-related tax policies.

    • Hardcover $61.00 £50.95
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00