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Using inflation to erode the US public debt

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  • Aizenman, Joshua
  • Marion, Nancy

Abstract

Projections indicate the US Federal debt held by the public may exceed 70–100% of GDP within 10years. In many respects, the temptation to inflate away some of this debt burden is similar to that at the end of World War II. In 1946, the debt ratio was 108.6%. Inflation reduced this ratio by more than a third within a decade. Yet there are some important differences – shorter debt maturities today reduce the temptation to inflate, while the larger share of debt held by foreigners increases it. This paper lays out an analytical framework for determining the impact of a large nominal debt overhang on the temptation to inflate. It suggests that when economic growth is stalled, the US debt overhang may induce an increase in inflation of about 5% for several years that could significantly reduce the debt ratio.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 33 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 524-541

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:33:y:2011:i:4:p:524-541

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622617

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Keywords: Inflation; Public debt; Debt overhang; Debt maturity;

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References

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  9. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  10. Guillermo A. Calvo, 1989. "Is Inflation Effective for Liquidating Short-Term Nominal Debt?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(4), pages 950-960, December.
  11. Calvo, Guillermo A & Guidotti, Pablo E, 1992. "Optimal Maturity of Nominal Government Debt: An Infinite-Horizon Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(4), pages 895-919, November.
  12. Calomiris, Charles W., 1988. "Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 47-68, March.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Grèce: la sortie de l'euro est proche...
    by contact@captaineconomics.fr (Le Captain') in Captain Economics on 2012-05-08 11:13:42
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Cited by:
  1. John Kitchen & Menzie Chinn, 2011. "Financing US Debt: Is There Enough Money in the World – and at What Cost?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 373-413, December.
  2. Fuad Hasanov & Reda Cherif, 2012. "Public Debt Dynamics: The Effects of Austerity, Inflation, and Growth Shocks," IMF Working Papers 12/230, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Niemann, Stefan & Pichler, Paul, 2011. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policies in the face of rare disasters," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 75-92, January.
  4. Belke, Ansgar & Schnabl, Gunther, 2010. "Finanzkrise, globale Liquidität und makroökonomischer Exit," Working Papers 92, University of Leipzig, Faculty of Economics and Management Science.
  5. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2012. "The Price Theory of Money, Prospero's Liquidity Trap, and Sudden Stop: Back to Basics and Back," NBER Working Papers 18285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dániel Felcser & Kristóf Lehmann, 2012. "The Fed’s inflation target and the background of its announcement," MNB Bulletin, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (the central bank of Hungary), vol. 7(3), pages 28-37, October.
  7. George J. Hall & Thomas J. Sargent, 2010. "Interest Rate Risk and Other Determinants of Post-WWII U.S. Government Debt/GDP Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 15702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mayer, Eric & Rüth, Sebastian & Scharler, Johann, 2013. "Government debt, inflation dynamics and the transmission of fiscal policy shocks," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 762-771.
  9. Reda, Cherif & Fuad, Hasanov, 2010. "Public Debt Dynamics and Debt Feedback," MPRA Paper 27918, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Ansgar Belke & Niklas Potrafke, 2011. "Does Government Ideology Matter in Monetary Policy? A Panel Data Analysis for OECD Countries," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2011-48, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  11. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2013. "Hoarding of international reserves in China: Mercantilism, domestic consumption and US monetary policy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 1044-1078.
  12. Vivekanand Jayakumar & Barbara Weiss, 2011. "Global reserve currency system: Why will the dollar standard give way to a tripolar currency order?," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 92-130, March.

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