Matthew C. Weinzierl

Associate Professor of Business Administration

Matt Weinzierl completed his PhD in economics at Harvard University in 2008 and is an Associate Professor in the Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School.  Prior to his doctoral studies, Professor Weinzierl worked in the New York office of McKinsey & Company, specializing in financial services.  From 2003 to 2004, he served as the Staff Economist for Macroeconomics on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Professor Weinzierl has written on a range of topics in optimal taxation and optimal economic policy more generally. His most recent projects, associated with the idea of Positive Optimal Tax Theory, focus on identifying and formalizing the goals for tax policy that hold sway among the public, political and economic leaders, and leading tax thinkers, and then characterizing the implications of using those objectives in the analysis of optimal taxation. In other work, he has explored the potential value of age-dependent taxation, the dynamic feedback effects of tax changes, the use of fiscal policy to counteract recessions, the proper price-indexing of Social Security, and the impact of differences in beliefs and tastes across individuals on optimal tax design.  His research has been published in Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Public Economics, American Economic Journals: Economic Policy, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Journal of Economic Perspectives, and has been discussed in the Economist, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.  In 2008, he was selected to participate in the Review of Economic Studies tour. He is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Professor Weinzierl is married to Coventry Edwards-Pitt, a wealth advisor.  Their family lives in the western suburbs of Boston and spends its free time enjoying music, the outdoors, and ice cream.

Featured Work


Journal Articles

  1. De Gustibus non est Taxandum: Heterogeneity in Preferences and Optimal Redistribution

    Benjamin B Lockwood and Matthew Weinzierl

    The prominent but unproven intuition that preference heterogeneity reduces redistribution in a standard optimal tax model is shown to hold under the plausible condition that the distribution of preferences for consumption relative to leisure rises, in terms of first-order stochastic dominance, with income. Given familiar functional form assumptions on utility and the distributions of ability and preferences, a simple statistic for the effect of preference heterogeneity on marginal tax rates is derived. Numerical simulations and suggestive empirical evidence demonstrate the link between this potentially measurable statistic and the quantitative implications of preference heterogeneity for policy.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Income; Decision Choices and Conditions; Consumer Behavior; Taxation; Microeconomics; Macroeconomics;


    Lockwood, Benjamin B., and Matthew Weinzierl. "De Gustibus non est Taxandum: Heterogeneity in Preferences and Optimal Redistribution." Journal of Public Economics 124 (April 2015): 74–80. (Also NBER Working Paper Series, No. 17784, September 2014 and Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-063, January 2012.) View Details
  2. Seesaws and Social Security Benefits Indexing

    Matthew Weinzierl

    The price indexation of Social Security benefit payments has emerged in recent years as a flashpoint of debate in the United States. I characterize the direct effects that changes in that price index would have on retirees who differ in their initial wealth at retirement and in their mortality rates after retirement. I propose a simple but flexible theoretical framework that converts benefits reform first into changes to retirees' consumption paths and then into a net effect on social welfare. I calibrate that framework using recently produced data on Social Security beneficiaries by lifetime income decile and both existing and new survey evidence on the normative priorities Americans have regarding their Social Security benefits. The results suggest that the value retirees place on protection against longevity risk is an important caveat to the widespread enthusiasm for a switch to a slower-growing price index such as the chained CPI-U.

    Keywords: Retirement; Compensation and Benefits; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "Seesaws and Social Security Benefits Indexing." Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Fall 2014): 137–196. View Details
  3. The Promise of Positive Optimal Taxation: Normative Diversity and a Role for Equal Sacrifice

    Matthew Weinzierl

    A prominent assumption in modern optimal tax research is that the objective of taxation is Utilitarian. I present new survey evidence that most people disagree with this assumption, preferring tax policies based at least in part on a classic alternative objective: the principle of Equal Sacrifice. I generalize the standard model to accommodate this preference for a mixed objective, proposing a method by which to make disparate criteria commensurable while respecting Pareto efficiency. Then, I show that optimal policy in this generalized model, calibrated to the survey evidence and U.S. microdata, quantitatively matches several features of existing tax policy that are incompatible in the conventional model but widely endorsed in reality, including the coexistence of substantial redistribution and limited tagging. Together, these findings demonstrate the potential of a positive theory of optimal taxation.

    Keywords: Taxation; Theory;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "The Promise of Positive Optimal Taxation: Normative Diversity and a Role for Equal Sacrifice." Journal of Public Economics 118 (October 2014): 128–142. (Also NBER Working Paper Series, No. 18599.) View Details
  4. Preference Heterogeneity and Optimal Capital Income Taxation

    Mikhail Golosov, Maxim Troshkin, Aleh Tsyvinski and Matthew Weinzierl

    We examine a prominent justification for capital income taxation: goods preferred by those with high ability ought to be taxed. In an environment where commodity taxes are allowed to be nonlinear functions of income and consumption, we derive an analytical expression that reveals the forces determining optimal commodity taxation. We then calibrate the model to evidence on the relationship between skills and preferences and extensively examine the quantitative case for taxes on future consumption (saving). In our baseline case of a unit intertemporal elasticity, optimal capital income tax rates are 2% on average and 4.5% on high earners. We find that the intertemporal elasticity of substitution has a substantial effect on optimal capital taxation. If the intertemporal elasticity is one-third, optimal capital income tax rates rise to 15% on average and 23% on high earners; if the intertemporal elasticity is two, optimal rates fall to 0.6% on average and 1.6% on high earners. Nevertheless, in all cases that we consider, the welfare gains of using optimal capital taxes are small.

    Keywords: Taxation;


    Golosov, Mikhail, Maxim Troshkin, Aleh Tsyvinski, and Matthew Weinzierl. "Preference Heterogeneity and Optimal Capital Income Taxation." Journal of Public Economics 97 (January 2013): 160–175. (Also NBER Working Paper Series, No. 16619, December 2010.) View Details
  5. An Exploration of Optimal Stabilization Policy

    N. Gregory Mankiw and Matthew C. Weinzierl

    This paper examines the optimal response of monetary and fiscal policy to a decline in aggregate demand. The theoretical framework is a two-period general equilibrium model in which prices are sticky in the short-run and flexible in the long-run. Policy is evaluated by how well it raises the welfare of the representative household. While the model has Keynesian features, its policy prescriptions differ significantly from textbook Keynesian analysis. Moreover, the model suggests that the commonly used "bang for the buck" calculations are potentially misleading guides for the welfare effects of alternative fiscal policies.

    Keywords: Business Cycles; Framework; Theory; Business Model; Markets; Welfare or Wellbeing; Policy; History; Balance and Stability; Business Organization; Price;


    Mankiw, N. Gregory, and Matthew C. Weinzierl. "An Exploration of Optimal Stabilization Policy." Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (spring 2011). (Also Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-113, May 2011 and NBER Working Paper Series, No. 17029, May 2011.) View Details
  6. The Surprising Power of Age-Dependent Taxes

    Matthew C. Weinzierl

    This article provides a new, empirically driven application of the dynamic Mirrleesian framework by studying a feasible and potentially powerful tax reform: age-dependent labor income taxation. I show analytically how age dependence improves policy on both the intratemporal and intertemporal margins. I use detailed numerical simulations, calibrated with data from the U.S. PSID, to generate robust policy implications: age dependence (1) lowers marginal taxes on average and especially on high-income young workers and (2) lowers average taxes on all young workers relative to older workers when private saving and borrowing are restricted. Finally, I calculate and characterize the welfare gains from age dependence. Despite its simplicity, age dependence generates a welfare gain equal to between 0.6% and 1.5% of aggregate annual consumption, and it captures more than 60% of the gain from reform to the dynamic optimal policy. The gains are due to substantial increases in both efficiency and equity. When age dependence is restricted to be Pareto-improving, the welfare gain is nearly as large.

    Keywords: Age; Income; Mathematical Methods; Taxation; Policy; Welfare or Wellbeing; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C. "The Surprising Power of Age-Dependent Taxes." Review of Economic Studies 78, no. 4 (October 2011): 1490–1518. (Also Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-114, May 2011.) View Details
  7. The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

    N. Gregory Mankiw and Matthew C. Weinzierl

    Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

    Keywords: Taxation; Wages; Personal Characteristics;


    Mankiw, N. Gregory, and Matthew C. Weinzierl. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2, no. 1 (February 2010): 155–176. View Details
  8. Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice

    N. Gregory Mankiw, Matthew C. Weinzierl and Danny Yagan

    We highlight and explain eight lessons from optimal tax theory and compare them to the last few decades of OECD tax policy. As recommended by theory, top marginal income tax rates have declined, marginal income tax schedules have flattened, redistribution has risen with income inequality, and commodity taxes are more uniform and are typically assessed on final goods. However, trends in capital taxation are mixed, and capital income tax rates remain well above the zero level recommended by theory. Moreover, some of theory's more subtle prescriptions, such as taxes that involve personal characteristics, asset-testing, and history-dependence, remain rare in practice. Where large gaps between theory and policy remain, the difficult question is whether policymakers need to learn more from theorists, or the other way around.

    Keywords: Taxation; Theory; Practice; Policy; Distribution; Capital; Assets; History; Equality and Inequality; Personal Characteristics;


    Mankiw, N. Gregory, Matthew C. Weinzierl, and Danny Yagan. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice." Journal of Economic Perspectives 23, no. 4 (fall 2009): 147–174. View Details
  9. Dynamic Scoring: A Back-of-the-Envelope Guide

    Matthew C. Weinzierl and N. Gregory Mankiw

    This paper uses the neoclassical growth model to examine the extent to which a tax cut pays for itself through higher economic growth. The model yields simple expressions for the steady-state feedback effect of a tax cut. The feedback is surprisingly large: for standard parameter values, half of a capital tax cut is self-financing. The paper considers various generalizations of the basic model, including elastic labor supply, general production technologies, departures from infinite horizons, and non-neoclassical production settings. It also examines how the steady-state results are modified when one considers the transition path to the steady state.

    Keywords: Taxation; Venture Capital; Financial Services Industry;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C., and N. Gregory Mankiw. "Dynamic Scoring: A Back-of-the-Envelope Guide." Journal of Public Economics 90, no. 8 (September 2006): 1415–1433. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions

    Benjamin B. Lockwood and Matthew Weinzierl

    Calculating the welfare implications of changes to economic policy or shocks to the economy requires economists to decide on a normative criterion. One way to make that decision is to elicit the relevant moral criteria from real-world policy choices, converting a normative decision into a positive inference exercise as in, for example, the recent surge of so-called "inverse-optimum" research. We find that capitalizing on the potential of this approach is not as straightforward as we might hope. We perform the inverse-optimum inference on U.S. tax policy from 1979 through 2010 and identify two broad explanations for its evolution. These explanations, however, either undermine the reliability of the inference exercise's conclusions or challenge conventional assumptions upon which economists routinely rely when performing welfare evaluations. We emphasize the need for better evidence on society's positive and normative judgments in order to resolve the questions these findings raise.

    Keywords: Equality and Inequality; Taxation; Policy; Welfare or Wellbeing; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Lockwood, Benjamin B., and Matthew Weinzierl. "Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-119, June 2014. (Revised October 2014. Revised and Resubmitted to the Journal of Monetary Economics.) View Details
  2. Revisiting the Classical View of Benefit-Based Taxation

    Matthew Weinzierl

    This paper explores how the persistently popular "classical" logic of benefit-based taxation, in which an individual's benefit from public goods is tied to his or her income-earning ability, can be incorporated into modern optimal tax theory. If Lindahl's methods are applied to that view of benefits, first-best optimal policy can be characterized analytically as depending on a few potentially estimable statistics, in particular the coefficient of complementarity between public goods and endowed ability. Constrained optimal policy with a Pareto-efficient objective that strikes a balance—controlled by a single parameter—between this principle and the familiar utilitarian criterion can be simulated using conventional constraints and methods. A wide range of optimal policy outcomes can result, including those that match well several features of existing policies. To the extent that such an objective reflects the mixed normative reasoning behind prevailing policies, this model may offer a useful approach to a positive optimal tax theory.

    Keywords: Taxation; Policy;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "Revisiting the Classical View of Benefit-Based Taxation." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-101, April 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  3. Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation When Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources

    Alexander Gelber and Matthew Weinzierl

    Empirical research suggests that parents' economic resources affect their children's future earnings abilities. Optimal tax policy therefore treats future ability distributions as endogenous to current taxes. We model this endogeneity, calibrate the model to match estimates of the intergenerational transmission of earnings ability in the United States, and use the model to simulate such an optimal policy numerically. The optimal policy in this context is more redistributive toward low-income parents than existing U.S. tax policy. It also increases the probability that low-income children move up the economic ladder, generating a present-value welfare gain of one and three-quarters percent of consumption in our baseline case.

    Keywords: Equality and Inequality; Income; Taxation; Policy; Outcome or Result; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Gelber, Alexander, and Matthew Weinzierl. "Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation When Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-014, August 2012. (Updated April 2014. NBER Working Paper Series, No. 18332. Revised and Resubmitted to the National Tax Journal. NBER Working Paper Series, No. 18332) View Details

Other Publications and Materials

  1. The Roots of Our Tax Debates

    Matthew C. Weinzierl

    Our fiscal debates are endlessly frustrating. The outlines of a compromise seem clear, yet both sides remain incapable of agreement. But is the proper balance between spending less and taxing more really so obvious? A look at what underlies the political wars over taxes reveals that the nation is not merely arguing about budgets: Americans are trying to reconcile deeply held, and often contradictory, beliefs about why we tax.

    Keywords: Values and Beliefs; Debates; Taxation; Budgets and Budgeting; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C. "The Roots of Our Tax Debates." National Affairs, no. 16 (Summer 2013). View Details
  2. Macroeconomic Policy and U.S. Competitiveness

    Richard H.K. Vietor and Matthew Weinzierl

    The United States is on a glide path to fiscal disaster, with experts projecting that the federal government will take in far less money than it spends-indefinitely. Our current fiscal policy is eroding competitiveness in several ways, and business conditions in the U.S. will deteriorate if there's no change in direction. The authors examine how fiscal policy relates to the three drivers of productivity: improving human capital, increasing physical capital (equipment or software, for example), and using these forms of capital more efficiently. Government spending for many public goods, such as education and infrastructure, contributes directly to one or more of them, whereas spending on health care and entitlements does little to enhance competitiveness directly. Taxes are needed to fund public goods, but they sometimes distort the allocation of human and physical capital. And large government deficits put upward pressure on the cost of borrowing for companies. The authors propose a plan-they call it "20/21 by 2021"-to reduce the deficit from 3.8% of GDP (the Congressional Budget Office's most likely scenario) to just over 1%.

    Keywords: Macroeconomics; Government and Politics; Financial Crisis; Policy; Competition; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Vietor, Richard H.K., and Matthew Weinzierl. "Macroeconomic Policy and U.S. Competitiveness." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 3 (March 2012). View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. 1996 Welfare Reform in the United States

    Matthew Weinzierl, Katrina Flanagan and Alastair Su

    On August 22, 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)—a dramatic reform of the American system of economic assistance for the poor that, as its title suggested, attempted to encourage labor force participation rather than reliance on federal support. Clinton's decision to support a proposal that substantially cut spending on economic assistance was controversial among members of the Democratic Party, especially so close to the 1996 election. Republicans, in contrast, hailed the signing of PRWORA. Was the 1996 welfare reform a triumph of centrist policymaking that would establish a more sustainable version of economic assistance for poor Americans, or was it a dangerous first step toward the gradual disappearance of that assistance? Whose vision of American society did it represent?

    Keywords: welfare state; Poverty; public goods; moral hazard; median voter theorem; Poverty; Welfare or Wellbeing; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, Katrina Flanagan, and Alastair Su. "1996 Welfare Reform in the United States." Harvard Business School Case 715-030, June 2015. View Details
  2. Immigration Policy in Germany

    Matthew Weinzierl, Katrina Flanagan and Alastair Su

    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel faced economic and moral pressure to encourage greater immigration from struggling European, and especially Eurozone, countries after the economic downturn that began in 2008. In fact, it was possible that both the Euro currency union and the European political union depended on increasing migration across member countries, including into Germany. But German domestic politics made Merkel's decision a difficult one.

    Keywords: citizenship; optimal currency unions; Globalized Economies and Regions; Immigration; Germany; European Union;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, Katrina Flanagan, and Alastair Su. "Immigration Policy in Germany." Harvard Business School Case 715-029, March 2015. (Revised July 2015.) View Details
  3. Equality of Opportunity and Outcome in the U.S.

    Matthew Weinzierl and Alastair Su

    Equality of opportunity is endorsed universally even though, or more likely because, it can mean such different things to different people. What definition of equality of opportunity ought to figure into policy decisions? How close, or far, is the United States from providing equal opportunity?

    Keywords: equality of opportunity; justice; Opportunities; Equality and Inequality; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Alastair Su. "Equality of Opportunity and Outcome in the U.S." Harvard Business School Case 715-028, February 2015. View Details
  4. The Role of Government in Market Economies

    Matthew C. Weinzierl and Matthew Weinzierl

    This course is about one question: What is the proper role of the government in the market economy? We study the role of government as it plays out in the real world, using vivid case studies from many countries, decades, and policy angles. At the same time, we align these cases with a rigorous theoretical framework that clarifies the circumstances under which government intervention in the market can improve outcomes.

    Keywords: Policy; Economy; Government and Politics;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "The Role of Government in Market Economies." Harvard Business School Course Overview Note 714-035, November 2013. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  5. Should Corporate Profits Be Taxed?

    Matthew Weinzierl and Katrina Flanagan

    Taxing corporations is popular, but why? Corporations do not bear the burden of taxes, people do, and the incidence of the corporate income tax burden is likely to be far different from what many of its supporters assume.

    Keywords: Economic versus statutory incidence; Basics of corporate taxation; Business Ventures; Taxation; Profit;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Katrina Flanagan. "Should Corporate Profits Be Taxed?" Harvard Business School Case 714-033, February 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  6. The Estate Tax Debate

    Matthew Weinzierl, Katrina Flanagan and Valerie Galinskaya

    Per dollar of revenue, no tax policy generates more sound and fury than the taxation of estates. To supporters, the tax is a break on the concentration of wealth and power and an easy way to fund redistribution. To opponents, the tax is an unjust punishment of the frugal that sacrifices economic growth for short-term interests.

    Keywords: Atkinson-Stiglitz; optimal capital taxation; Bequest motives; Taxation; Family and Family Relationships; Property;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, Katrina Flanagan, and Valerie Galinskaya. "The Estate Tax Debate." Harvard Business School Case 714-032, February 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  7. Janet Yellen and the Bernanke Fed

    Matthew Weinzierl and Katrina Flanagan

    The unelected Federal Reserve Chairman exerts exceptional influence over the U.S., in fact global, economy. As Janet Yellen prepared to take over the position, she would look back on Chairman Bernanke's tenure during the Great Recession. During that time, Bernanke was attacked by critics from both the left and the right for guiding monetary policy into dangerous territory. Their criticisms echoed arguments Bernanke himself had made with regard to past downturns in Japan and Europe. Were the critics right, or was the Bernanke Fed charting a wise middle course?

    Keywords: monetary policy; Nominal rigidity and Aggregate Demand/Aggregate Supply; Phillips Curve; Taylor Rule; central bank independence; Central Banking; Money; Policy; Financial Crisis; Power and Influence; Banking Industry; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Katrina Flanagan. "Janet Yellen and the Bernanke Fed." Harvard Business School Case 714-030, November 2013. (Revised June 2014.) View Details
  8. Obamacare

    Matthew Weinzierl and Katrina Flanagan

    One vote in June, 2012, decided the fate of President Barack Obama's crowning first-term achievement: universal health insurance. Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court cast the deciding vote to uphold the keystone of the reform: the mandate to purchase insurance. That mandate had a convoluted history. Though born in a conservative think-tank and originally adopted by Republican leaders as a necessary component of reform, it was rejected by Republicans when taken on board by the President and Democrats. Roberts' decision rested on an interpretation of the mandate as a tax.

    Keywords: Universal health insurance; Adverse selection; Leviathan; Courts and Trials; Judgments; Insurance; Health Care and Treatment; Government and Politics; Insurance Industry; Public Administration Industry; Health Industry; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Katrina Flanagan. "Obamacare." Harvard Business School Case 714-029, November 2013. (Revised January 2015.) View Details
  9. Reform in the Chicago Public Schools

    Matthew Weinzierl and Katrina Flanagan

    In 2012, the Chicago Teachers' Union went on strike over proposed reforms by the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel. At the heart of the reforms, and the strike, was frustration over many decades of underperformance in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and a surge of controversial, largely market-based, experimentation in public education in many U.S. cities.

    Keywords: public education; public goods; Samuelson rule; Externalities and Pigouvian corrections; Tiebout sorting and efficiency; Education; Labor Unions; Public Administration Industry; Education Industry; Chicago;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Katrina Flanagan. "Reform in the Chicago Public Schools." Harvard Business School Case 714-027, December 2013. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  10. Comparative Advantage

    Matthew Weinzierl

    The theory of comparative advantage is a factor in international trade. In this note, we introduce the basic economics of comparative advantage and study its key implications.

    Keywords: Business and Government Relations; Comparative Advantage; economics; International trade; Trade; Cooperation; Business and Government Relations;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "Comparative Advantage." Harvard Business School Background Note 713-080, April 2013. View Details
  11. Barack Obama and the Bush Tax Cuts (A)

    Matthew C. Weinzierl and Eric D. Werker

    As his inauguration approached, President-elect Obama faced a financial sector meltdown, a costly bailout, and massive government deficits. With the economy in recession, interest rates near zero, and joblessness on the rise, Obama needed to decide whether, and how much, to use fiscal stimulus to resuscitate the economy. To help students understand Obama's options, the case reviews both the recent tax cuts under President George W. Bush, including the supply-side and demand-management justification given for them, and the broad history of fiscal policy in the United States.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Crisis; Borrowing and Debt; Financial Management; Policy; Government Administration; Taxation; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C., and Eric D. Werker. "Barack Obama and the Bush Tax Cuts (A)." Harvard Business School Case 709-037, January 2009. (Revised October 2011.) View Details
  12. Barack Obama and the Bush Tax Cuts (B)

    Matthew Weinzierl and Jacob Kuipers

    President Obama signs a major fiscal stimulus package and then must debate whether to extend the Bush tax cuts.

    Keywords: Taxation; Government and Politics; United States;


    Weinzierl, Matthew, and Jacob Kuipers. "Barack Obama and the Bush Tax Cuts (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 712-012, October 2011. (Revised October 2011.) View Details
  13. Ben Bernanke: Person of the Year?

    Lakshmi Iyer and Matthew C. Weinzierl

    In response to the economic and financial crisis of 2008–2009, the Federal Reserve greatly expanded the scale and scope of its activities. Though lauded by many experts for its actions, the Fed and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, faced harsh criticism from some public commentators and members of Congress. This document summarizes that criticism and Chairman Bernanke's responses to it, highlighting the tension between congressional oversight of the Fed and the Fed's independence from political influence.

    Keywords: Financial Crisis; Central Banking; Governance Controls; Policy; Crisis Management; Power and Influence; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Iyer, Lakshmi, and Matthew C. Weinzierl. "Ben Bernanke: Person of the Year?" Harvard Business School Case 710-051, January 2010. (Revised March 2011.) View Details
  14. California's Budget Crises, Tax Reform, and Domestic and International Tax Competition

    Matthew C. Weinzierl and Jacob Kuipers

    How do (and how should) governments design fiscal policies to compete in a globalized economy while meeting internal policy priorities including redistribution? In 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger repeatedly declared fiscal emergencies as California's state budget deficit reached all-time highs. The Governor and legislative leaders established the Commission on the Twenty-first Century Economy to recommend tax reforms that would improve the state's fiscal health and competitiveness. But when the Commission issued its recommendations, many of which were consistent with domestic and international trends in taxation, legislative leaders were highly critical and the prospects for reform dimmed. The case describes the political and economic contributors to California's persistent fiscal deficits and the reforms recommended by the Commission. It summarizes recent trends in taxation by U.S. states and OECD nations, relating the empirical trends to tax theory. Finally, it engages the issue of inter-jurisdictional tax competition from both positive and normative perspectives.

    Keywords: Budgets and Budgeting; Economy; Globalization; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Policy; Taxation; Competition; California;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C., and Jacob Kuipers. "California's Budget Crises, Tax Reform, and Domestic and International Tax Competition." Harvard Business School Case 710-038, April 2010. (Revised January 2013.) View Details
  15. California's Budget Crises, Tax Reform, and Domestic and International Tax Competition (TN)

    Matthew Weinzierl

    Keywords: Financial Crisis; Budgets and Budgeting; Taxation; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; California;


    Weinzierl, Matthew. "California's Budget Crises, Tax Reform, and Domestic and International Tax Competition (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 712-039, January 2012. View Details
  16. GUIDES: Insight through Indicators

    Matthew C. Weinzierl, Jonathan Schlefer and Ann Cullen

    GUIDES is an easily remembered framework that can help the business leader and student to confidently and quickly identify, organize, and interpret a country's key economic indicators. Alternatively, it can help them to evaluate third-party analyses and to compare such analyses across countries. In either case, this framework provides a structured way to complete and communicate analysis of a country's economic data.

    Keywords: Economy; Macroeconomics; Framework; Country; Performance Evaluation;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C., Jonathan Schlefer, and Ann Cullen. "GUIDES: Insight through Indicators." Harvard Business School Background Note 710-044, January 2010. (Revised December 2011.) View Details
  17. GUIDESlines: Benchmark Values for the GUIDES Framework

    Matthew C. Weinzierl, Jacob Kuipers and Jonathan Schlefer

    GUIDESlines provides benchmark values of the key economic indicators identified in the GUIDES framework for both developed countries (the OECD) and fast-growing emerging markets (the BRINCS countries).

    Keywords: Economics; Business Cycles; Macroeconomics; Framework; Business and Government Relations;


    Weinzierl, Matthew C., Jacob Kuipers, and Jonathan Schlefer. "GUIDESlines: Benchmark Values for the GUIDES Framework." Harvard Business School Background Note 711-067, February 2011. View Details
  18. Introduction to Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE)

    Catherine S. M. Duggan, Aldo Musacchio and Matthew C. Weinzierl

    Keywords: Business and Government Relations; International Relations; Trade;


    Duggan, Catherine S. M., Aldo Musacchio, and Matthew C. Weinzierl. "Introduction to Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE)." Harvard Business School Course Overview Note 710-045, January 2010. (Revised January 2013.) View Details

    Research Summary

  1. Overview

    by Matthew C. Weinzierl

    Professor Weinzierl’s work focuses on the design of economic policy, especially taxation. His current and recent work can be divided into three broad categories.

    First, he has shown how simple reforms might meaningfully improve policy. To take two examples, he has shown how making taxes depend on age, as well as income and other factors, would yield a more efficient and equitable tax system; and he has shown (along with Alex Gelber) how providing poor families with greater after-tax income, for example through expanded child tax credits, could increase the future income-earning abilities of their children and thereby generate substantial gains for all households.

    Second, he has challenged some core aspects of the standard approach to optimal policy analysis in the hopes of making it a more relevant, robust literature. He has argued (along with Greg Mankiw) that the standard approach recommends the taxation of height—a policy most people strongly reject. And he has shown that one explanation for that paradox, consistent with both survey evidence and existing policy design, is that people support a mixture of objectives for tax policy that includes J.S. Mill’s Equal Sacrifice principle in addition to the utilitarian objective usually assumed in policy analysis. In other work, he has shown how the standard approach’s assumption that all people have the same preferences can generate misleading results: with Ben B. Lockwood, he has shown how tax policy ought to be less redistributive if people have different tastes for consumption relative to leisure, and in work with Mike Golosov, Aleh Tsyvinski, and Maxim Troshkin he has shown how preference differences ought to affect the taxation of capital income.

    Third, he has worked on current issues in fiscal and tax policy. With Greg Mankiw, he has written about the effects of tax cuts in the long term, where their “dynamic scoring” impacts may be large, and about the optimal use of monetary and fiscal policy in short-term business cycle smoothing. In work with Richard Vietor, as part of the HBS initiative on U.S. competitiveness, he has provided recommendations on fiscal policy changes for the United States.

    1. Excellence in Peer Review, Journal of Public Economics, 2012. Awarded by Elsevier and the Editors of the Journal.

    2. Review of Economic Studies Tour, 2008. Presented the paper "The Surprising Power of Age-Dependent Taxes,” published in the Review in October, 2011.