nep-pbe New Economics Papers
on Public Economics
Issue of 2016‒02‒29
twenty-two papers chosen by
Thomas Andrén

  1. Fiscal competition and public debt By Janeba, Eckhard; Todtenhaupt, Maximilian
  2. Growth and Public Debt: What Are the Relevant Tradeoffs? By Kazuo Nishimura; Carine Nourry; Thomas Seegmuller; Alain Venditti
  3. What Has Been Happening to UK Income Inequality since the Mid-1990s? Answers from Reconciled and Combined Household Survey and Tax Return Data By Burkhauser, Richard V.; Herault, Nicolas; Jenkins, Stephen P.; Wilkins, Roger
  4. An economic analysis of the existing taxation of pensions (EET) versus an alternative regime (TEE). By Monique Ebell; Angus Armstrong; Philip Davis
  5. Taxing Capital? The Importance of How Human Capital is Accumulated By Peterman, William B.
  6. The Effects of the Tax Deduction for Postsecondary Tuition: Implications for Structuring Tax-Based Aid By Caroline M. Hoxby; George B. Bulman
  7. Studies on Regional Wealth Inequalities: the case of Italy By Marcel Ausloos; Roy Cerqueti
  8. The role of local taxes in local budgets By Zhirova, Galina
  9. Distributional effects of environmental meat taxes in Sweden- Can the poor still eat meat? By Säll, Sarah
  10. Is fiscal consolidation self-defeating? A Panel-VAR analysis for the Euro area countries By Attinasi, Maria Grazia; Metelli, Luca
  11. Internet and taxation in European Union By Bernardi, Luigi
  12. Redistribution through Charity and Optimal Taxation when People are Concerned with Social Status By Aronsson, Thomas; Johansson-Stenman, Olof; Wendner, Ronald
  13. A survey of the UK population on public policy By Richard S.J. Tol; Peter Dolton
  14. A large scale OLG model for France, Italy and Sweden: assessing the interpersonal and intrapersonal redistributive effects of public policies By Alessandro Bucciol; Laura Cavalli; Igor Fedotenkov; Paolo Pertile; Veronica Polin; Nicola Sartor; Alessandro Sommacal
  15. Advertising’s Elusive Economic Rationale: is there a case for limiting tax relief? By Driver, Ciaran
  16. The Effect of Local Taxes on Firm Performance: Evidence from Geo-referenced Data By Federico Belotti; Edoardo Di Porto; Gianluca Santoni
  17. Assessing the welfare effects of unemployment benefits using the regression kink design By Camille Landais
  18. Estimating participation responses using transfer program reform By Bastani, Spencer; Moberg, Ylva; Selin, Håkan
  19. Global Taxes and International Taxation: Mirage and Reality By Richard M. Bird
  20. On the Implications of Taxation for Investment, Savings and Growth: Evidence from Brazil, Chile and Mexico By Emilio Espino; Martin González-Rozada
  21. A Historical Welfare Analysis of Social Security: Whom Did the Program Benefit? By Peterman, William B.; Sommer, Kamila
  22. Payroll tax reduction in Brazil : Effects on employment and wages By Scherer, C.R.

  1. By: Janeba, Eckhard; Todtenhaupt, Maximilian
    Abstract: The existing theoretical literature on fiscal competition has to a large extent ignored the role of government debt as a determinant of taxes and productive public spending. We develop a simple model of fiscal competition with government borrowing. If a default on government debt is no option, initial debt levels play no role in fiscal competition. This neutrality result is overturned when a default is possible. A government that is constrained in its borrowing due to a possible default responds optimally by lowering spending on durable public infrastructure, which in turn induces more aggressive tax setting. A rise in exogenous firm mobility reinforces the link between legacy debt and fiscal competition. Our model may help explain the observation that highly indebted countries in Europe have decreased corporate tax rates over-proportionally. Our model may also be useful for evaluating decentralization reforms in which the power to tax firms is devolved to lower levels of governments which differ in their initial debt levels.
    Keywords: Asymmetric Tax Competition,Business Tax,Sovereign Debt,Inter-Jurisdictional Tax Competition
    JEL: H25 H63 H73 H87
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Kazuo Nishimura (KIER, Kyoto University - Kyoto University [Kyoto], RIEB, Kobe University - Kobe University); Carine Nourry (AMSE - Aix-Marseille School of Economics - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) - Ecole Centrale Marseille (ECM) - AMU - Aix-Marseille Université); Thomas Seegmuller (AMSE - Aix-Marseille School of Economics - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) - Ecole Centrale Marseille (ECM) - AMU - Aix-Marseille Université); Alain Venditti (Edhec Business School - Edhec - Edhec, AMSE - Aix-Marseille School of Economics - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) - Ecole Centrale Marseille (ECM) - AMU - Aix-Marseille Université)
    Abstract: The interplay between growth and public debt is addressed considering a Barro-type [1] endogenous growth model where public spending is financed through taxes on income and public debt. Debt is assumed to be a fixed proportion of GDP which is used as a policy parameter by the government. We first show that when debt is a large enough proportion of GDP, two distinct BGPs may co-exist, one being indeterminate. Therefore, local and global indeterminacy may arise and self-fulfilling expectations appear as a crucial ingredient to understand the impact of debt on growth and on macroeconomic fluctuations. We then exhibit two types of important trade-off associated with self-fulfilling expectations. First, we show that the lowest BGP is always decreasing with respect to the ratio of debt/GDP while the highest one is increasing. As a result, depending on the BGP selected by agents’ expectations, the relationship between debt and growth is not always negative. Second, we show that the highest BGP, which provides the highest welfare, is always locally indeterminate while the lowest is always locally determinate. Therefore, depending on the expectations of agents, when debt is increasing, large fluctuations associated to self-fulfilling believes may occur and be associated at the same time with welfare losses if there is a coordination on the low steady-state. Finally, a simple calibration exercise allows to provide an understanding of the recent experiences of many OECD countries.
    Keywords: endogenous growth,public spending,public debt,sunspot fluctuations
    Date: 2015–12
  3. By: Burkhauser, Richard V. (Cornell University); Herault, Nicolas (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research); Jenkins, Stephen P. (London School of Economics); Wilkins, Roger (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)
    Abstract: Estimates of UK income inequality trends differ substantially according to whether estimates are based on household survey data (used for official statistics) or tax return data (used in the top incomes literature). We reconcile differences in variable definitions and combine survey and tax return data in order to take advantage of the much better coverage of top incomes in the latter, and provide improved estimates of UK inequality trends since the mid-1990s. We show there was a marked increase in income inequality in the early 2000s that survey-based estimates do not reveal, and our conclusions are robust to changes in the definitions of income, income-sharing unit, and summary inequality measure. In addition, our reconciled and combined data provide more comparable estimates of UK-US inequality trends than the top incomes literature to date.
    Keywords: inequality, income inequality, top income shares, HBAI, SPI, top incomes, tax return data, survey data
    JEL: D31 C81
    Date: 2016–02
  4. By: Monique Ebell; Angus Armstrong; Philip Davis
    Abstract: The Government has recently issued a consultation document which raises the possibility of a substantial change in the taxation of pensions. In this paper we assess the economic consequences of changing from the existing EET system (where pension savings and returns are exempt from income tax, but pension income is taxed) to a TEE system (pension savings would be from taxed income but with no further taxation thereafter), making use of two complementary approaches. First, we review the economic and empirical literature, and second we construct a general equilibrium overlapping generations (OLG) model parameterised to UK data and the progressive UK tax system. Both approaches lead to the same outcome: that changing from EET to TEE would lead to a fall in personal savings. Our OLG model also finds that this reduction in savings would have broader macroeconomic consequences including lower aggregate investment, a smaller steady state capital stock, lower productivity and output, lower real wages, lower aggregate consumption, and a higher real interest rate. We compare steady state outcomes for EET to TEE while allowing for pension subsidy rates (i.e. a top-ups on pension savings out of taxed income) of between 10% and 50%. In order for the macroeconomic outcomes under TEE to approach those under EET, a pension subsidy of at least 50% would be required. However, this high rate of TEE subsidy on pension savings would crowd out other forms of government spending as aggregate tax revenues would decline by 3.2%.
    Date: 2015–09
  5. By: Peterman, William B. (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.))
    Abstract: This paper considers the impact of how human capital is accumulated on optimal capital tax policy in a life cycle model. In particular, it compares the optimal capital tax when human capital is accumulated exogenously, endogenously through learning-by-doing, and endogenously through learning-or-doing. Previous work demonstrates that in a simple two generation life cycle model with exogenous human capital accumulation, if the utility function is separable and homothetic in each consumption and labor, then the government has no motive to condition taxes on age or tax capital. In contrast, this paper demonstrates analytically that adding either form of endogenous human capital accumulation creates a motive for the government to use age-dependent labor income taxes. Moreover, if the government cannot condition taxes on age, then a capital tax can be optimal in order to mimic such taxes. This paper quantitatively explores the strength of this channel and finds that, including human capital accumulation with learning-by-doing, as opposed to exogenously, causes the optimal capital tax to increase by between 7.3 and 14.5 percentage points. In contrast, introducing learning-or-doing causes a much smaller increase in the optimal capital tax of between 0.7 and 3.7 percentage points. Taken as a whole, this paper finds that the specific formulation by which human capital is accumulated can have notable implications on the optimal capital tax.
    Keywords: Optimal Taxation; Capital Taxation; Human Capital
    JEL: E24 E62 H21
    Date: 2015–12–29
  6. By: Caroline M. Hoxby; George B. Bulman
    Abstract: The federal tax deduction for tuition potentially increases investments in postsecondary education at minimal administrative cost. We assess whether it actually does this using regression discontinuity methods on the income cutoffs that govern eligibility for the deduction. Although many eligible households take nearly the maximum deduction allowed, we find no evidence that it affects attending college (at all), attending full- versus part-time, attending four- versus two-year college, the resources experienced in college, the amount paid for college, or student loans. Our analysis suggests that the deduction's inefficacy may be due to issues of salience, timing, and the method of receipt. We argue that the deduction might increase college-going if it were modified in simple ways that would not increase costs but would make it more likely to relax liquidity constraints and be perceived as a price change (which they is) as opposed to an income change. We outline how such modifications could be tested. This study has independent applied econometrics interest because households who would be just above a cut-off manage their incomes so that they fall slightly below it. This income management generates bias due to reverse causality, and we explore how to choose "doughnut-holes" that avoid bias without undue loss of statistical power.
    JEL: C21 H2 H24 H26 I22 I23
    Date: 2015–09
  7. By: Marcel Ausloos; Roy Cerqueti
    Abstract: The paper contains a short review of techniques examining regional wealth inequalities based on recently published research work but is also presenting unpublished features. The data pertains to Italy (IT), over the period 2007-2011: the number of cities in regions, the number of inhabitants in cities and in regions, as well as the aggregated tax income of the cities and of regions. Frequency-size plots and cumulative distribution function plots, scatter plots and rank-size plots are displayed. The rank-size rule of a few cases is discussed. Yearly data of the aggregated tax income is transformed into a few indicators: the Gini, Theil, and Herfindahl-Hirschman indices. Numerical results confirm that IT is divided into very different regional realities. One region is selected for a short discussion: Molise. A note on the "first digit Benford law" for testing data validity is presented.
    Date: 2016–02
  8. By: Zhirova, Galina (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration)
    Abstract: The article considers the sources of income part of local budgets. It also highlights the problems of financial independence of local entities, full realization of economic interests of the population of the territories. The article also proves that for the purpose of replenishment of revenue part of local budgets and enhance the role of local taxes, it is necessary to improve tax legislation. It also proposes in order to improve the collection of land tax, to improve the land legislation and to reform the taxation of property of individuals.
    Keywords: local budget, local taxes and fees, budgetary incomes, tax legislation
    Date: 2015
  9. By: Säll, Sarah (Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)
    Abstract: This paper looks at the distributional effect of an environmental tax on meat in Sweden, if such a tax was to be introduced. Welfare effects are measured as Compensation Variation (CV) for multiple price changes where Hicksian cross price elasticities, household expenditures and price changes are used in the calculations. Results show that taxes on meat are neutral over households when expenditures on meat are used as welfare indicators, and regressive if income is used. This can be explained as households use similar shares of total expenditures on meat. The households with the smallest income levels need to be compensated with 950 SEK per person and year to feel that utility is not lowered if taxes on meat are introduced, and the households with the highest income levels need to be compensated with 1176 SEK per person and year. This corresponds to 0.78% and 0.80% of total expenditures for the groups respectively. Compared to income levels this is 1.04% for the households with the smallest income levels and 0.52% for the households with the largest income.
    Keywords: Meat taxes; Distributional effects; Compensating Variation; Sweden
    JEL: D12 D60 Q18 Q50 Q58
    Date: 2015–02–12
  10. By: Attinasi, Maria Grazia; Metelli, Luca
    Abstract: This paper studies the effects of fiscal consolidation on the debt-to-GDP ratio of 11 Euro area countries. Using a quarterly fiscal Panel VAR allows us to trace out the dynamics of the debt-to-GDP ratio following a fiscal shock and to disentangle the main channels through which fiscal consolidation affects the debt ratio. We define a fiscal consolidation episode as self-defeating if the debt-to-GDP ratio does not decrease compared to the pre-shock level. Our main finding is that when consolidation is implemented via a cut in government primary spending, the debt ratio, after an initial increase, falls to below its pre-shock level. When instead the consolidation is implemented via an increase in government revenues, the initial increase in the debt ratio is stronger and, eventually, the debt ratio reverts to its pre-shock level, resulting in what we call self-defeating austerity. JEL Classification: E62, H6, C33
    Keywords: debt trajectory, fiscal consolidation, fiscal stress, panel VAR
    Date: 2016–02
  11. By: Bernardi, Luigi
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to offer a primer on certain important features and issues concerning Internet and taxation in the European Union. After a general introduction concerning the origins of the matter, the paper discusses why a tax on the huge profits made by the big US digital MNEs in Europe was not substantially reflected in the tax policy of EU members, notwithstanding the large tax gap among EU countries resulting from the shift in profits by the (US digital) MNE towards lower or no taxation countries. Then the main directives on Internet and taxation introduced by the EU (and also by the OECD) since the late 1990s are discussed: the EU especially focusses on establishing the due place of taxation on electronic commerce, while the OECD (more recently together with the G20) has placed the emphasis on regulating Transfer Prices and contrasting Base Erosion and Profits’ Shifting (BEPS).
    Keywords: Web Tax; E-commerce; Profits shifting, Europe; OECD
    JEL: H20 H29
    Date: 2015–06–21
  12. By: Aronsson, Thomas; Johansson-Stenman, Olof; Wendner, Ronald
    Abstract: This paper deals with tax policy responses to charitable giving based on a model of optimal redistributive income taxation. The major contribution is the simultaneous treatment of (i) warm-glow and stigma effects of charitable donations; (ii) that the warm glow of giving and stigma of receiving charity may to some extent depend on relative comparisons; and (iii) that people are also concerned with their relative consumption more generally. Whether charity should be taxed or supported turns out to largely depend on the relative strengths of the warm glow of giving and the stigma of receiving charity, respectively, and on the positional externalities caused by charitable donations. In addition, imposing stigma on the mimicker (via a relaxation of the self-selection constraint) strengthens the case for subsidizing charity. We also consider a case where the government is unable to target the charitable giving through a direct tax instrument, and examine how the optimal marginal income tax structure is adjusted in response to charitable giving.
    Keywords: Conspicuous consumption, conspicuous charitable giving, optimal income taxation, warm glow, stigma
    JEL: D03 D62 H21 H23
    Date: 2016–01–08
  13. By: Richard S.J. Tol (Department of Economics, University of Sussex,UK, Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Spatial Economic,UK, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands); Peter Dolton (Department of Economics, University of Sussex,UK,Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics,UK,CESifo, Munich, Germany,IZA, Bonn, Germany)
    Abstract: An online survey of over 12,000 UK residents was conducted with the aim of understanding: elements of public policy, preferences and knowledge of public expenditure, the provision of public goods, and the intergenerational allocation of resources. Questions were asked about demographics, wealth and income attitudes, time preferences, risk preferences, social value orientation, subjective personal assessments of life expectancy, perceptions of government spending, and public policies on health, education, pensions and climate change. This paper presents a simple description of the summary statistics from the survey. It does not, as yet, provides substantive analysis of the data.
    Keywords: Survey, United Kingdom, discount rate, risk aversion, social value orientation, health, education, pensions, climate change, public policy
    JEL: D10 D64 D70 D80 I18 I28 J32 H51 H52 H55 Q54
    Date: 2016–02
  14. By: Alessandro Bucciol (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Laura Cavalli (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Igor Fedotenkov (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Paolo Pertile (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Veronica Polin (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Nicola Sartor (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Alessandro Sommacal (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: The paper presents a large scale overlapping generation model with heterogeneous agents, where the family is the decision unit. We model a large number of tax and public expenditure (cash and in kind) programmes, so that the equity and efficiency implications of public sector intervention may be assessed in its complexity. We do this for three european countries that show remarkable differences in the design of most of these programmes: France, Italy and Sweden. We show that the model is able to match relevant aggregate and distributional statistics of the three countries we analyse. To illustrate the working of the model, we provide examples of policy experiments that can be simulated. That is, we compare our model economies featuring the current set of public policies implemented in France, Italy and Sweden, with alternative economies where some (all) public finance programs are absent. The comparison is done, looking at the effects on both inequality and individual welfare.
    Keywords: Redistribution, Fiscal policy, Computable OLG models
    JEL: H2 H3
    Date: 2014–04
  15. By: Driver, Ciaran
    Abstract: Advertising and its effects have been debated for well over a century. In the last few decades a generally sceptical view of the benefits of advertising has been overturned by a series of academic advances in economics that detail a variety of ways in which advertising may affect the economy and society. This academic work has however been paralleled by a growing popular and political opposition to advertising and its social effects. In this article, the positive economic case for advertising is challenged by an assessment of the main channels of its influence and by a review of the associated empirical findings on its economic and wider impact. A policy response of limiting the tax deductibility of business advertising is explored.
    Keywords: Advertising; Policy; Economic Theory; Industrial Organization; Business Ethics
    JEL: H2 H25 K2 L4 L5 M0
    Date: 2015–01–01
  16. By: Federico Belotti (University of Rome Tor Vergata); Edoardo Di Porto (Università di Napoli Federico II, CSEF and UCFS, Uppsala University); Gianluca Santoni (CEPII)
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of municipal non-residential property taxation on firms' performance using a panel data of italian manufacturing firms in 2001-2010. In the spirit of Duranton et al. (2011), we use a pairwise spatial difference instrumental variable estimator which allows to tackle the endogeneity of local taxation. As well as providing robust inference to arbitrary cross-sectional dependence and serial correlation, our empirical strategy also improves on existing work by exploiting the exogenous variation in local taxes generated by the political alignment of each jurisdiction with the central government. We find that non-residential property taxation exert a negative impact on firms' employment, capital and sales to such an extent as to significantly affect total factor productivity.
    Keywords: Local taxation, endogeneity, spatial differencing, generalized method of moments, two-way clustering
    JEL: H22 H71 R38
    Date: 2016–02–13
  17. By: Camille Landais
    Abstract: I show how, in the tradition of the dynamic labor supply literature, one can identify the moral hazard effects and liquidity effects of unemployment insurance (UI ) using variations along the time profile of unemployment benefits. I use this strategy to investigate the anatomy of labor supply responses to UI. I identify the effect of benefit level and potential duration in the regression kink design using kinks in the schedule of benefits in the US. My results suggest that the response of search effort to UI benefits is driven as much by liquidity effects as by moral hazard effects.
    JEL: D82 J22 J65
    Date: 2015
  18. By: Bastani, Spencer (Linnéuniversitetet); Moberg, Ylva (Uppsala universitet); Selin, Håkan (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)
    Abstract: In this paper we estimate labor force participation responses for married women in Sweden using population-wide register data and detailed information about individuals’ budget sets. For identification we exploit a reform in the system for housing allowances in 1997 which affected participation tax rates for households with/without children differently. Using a simple theoretical framework we provide a structural interpretation of our estimates and highlight how the employment response depends on the employment level. Our central estimate of the participation elasticity is 0.13. When splitting the treated sample into four quartiles based on the wife’s skill level we find that the participation elasticity is more than twice as large for the lowest-skill sample than for the highest-skill sample.
    Keywords: labor supply; social assistance; housing allowance; in-work tax credits; take up of transfer programs
    JEL: H20 J22
    Date: 2016–01–20
  19. By: Richard M. Bird (University of Toronto)
    Date: 2014–07–29
  20. By: Emilio Espino; Martin González-Rozada
    Abstract: This paper explores the qualitative and quantitative implications of taxation for growth and savings in three Latin American countries: Brazil, Chile and Mexico, studying a small open economy in the context of an endogenous growth model where the domestic interest rate depends on the level of domestic debt. The model's parameters are calibrated to the Brazilian, Chilean and Mexican economies. The findings suggest that, in order to implement the optimal tax regime, Brazil must tax capital at a considerably lower rate than at present. Consumption should be heavily taxed in Brazil and Mexico and optimal labor taxes should be lower than actual taxes in Brazil and Chile. However, while sub-optimal taxes seem to imply lower long-run growth in these three countries, low saving rates do not seem to be a direct consequence of sub-optimal taxation.
    Keywords: Taxation, Investment, Economic Development & Growth, Fiscal Policy, Optimal fiscal policy, Endogenous economic growth, Savings
    Date: 2015–04
  21. By: Peterman, William B. (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)); Sommer, Kamila (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.))
    Abstract: A well-established result in the literature is that Social Security tends to reduce steady state welfare in a standard life cycle model. However, less is known about the historical effects of the program on agents who were alive when the program was adopted. In a computational life cycle model that simulates the Great Depression and the enactment of Social Security, this paper quantifies the welfare effects of the program's enactment on the cohorts of agents who experienced it. In contrast to the standard steady state results, we find that the adoption of the original Social Security tended to improve these cohorts' welfare. In particular, we estimate that the original program benefited households alive at the time of the program's adoption with a likelihood of over 80 percent, and increased these agents' welfare by the equivalent of 5.9% of their expected future lifetime consumption. The welfare benefit was particularly large for poorer agents and agents who were near retirement age when the program was enacted. Through a series of counterfactual experiments we demonstrate that the difference between the steady state and transitional welfare effects is primarily driven by a slower adoption of payroll taxes and a quicker adoption of benefit payments during the program's phase-in. Overall, the opposite welfare effects experienced by agents in the steady state versus agents who experienced the program's adoption might offer one explanation for why a program that potentially reduces welfare in the steady state was originally adopted.
    Keywords: Social Security; Recessions; Great Depression; Overlapping Generations
    JEL: D91 E21 H55
    Date: 2015–09–24
  22. By: Scherer, C.R.
    Abstract: This paper evaluates the effects of the elimination of a payroll tax on employment and wages in four manufacturing and service sectors in Brazil in early 2012. This tax, which accounted for 20 percent of the wage bill, was levied on employers and financed social security programmes. This study is based on administrative records from the Brazilian Ministry of Labour which contained information on formal employment contracts. Exploring the fact that the tax reform only covered firms not under a special tax regime for micro and small firms, a difference-in-differences approach with firm fixed effects was implemented to compare covered and uncovered firms controlling for sector, region and other covariates. The estimates suggest that, on average, the policy led to a 15 percent increase in employment, total labour input measured by contracted hours of work rose by 9 percent, and wages increased by 2 percent. These results indicate that in its first year of implementation the policy had positive employment effects and a partial shifting of the tax benefit onto labour.
    Keywords: payroll tax, labour demand, employment, wages, Brazil, social security
    Date: 2015–02–10

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