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Public Debt, Fiscal Solvency and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Latin America The Cases of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico

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  • Enrique G. Mendoza

    ()
    (Professor, Department of Economics, University of Maryland, and Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER))

  • P. Marcelo Oviedo

    ()
    (Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Iowa State University.)

Abstract

The ratios of public debt as a share of gdp of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico were 12 percentage points higher on average during the period 1996-2005 than in the period 1990-1995. Costa Rica’s debt ratio remained stable but at a high level; near 50 per cent. Is there reason to be concerned about the solvency of the public sector in these economies? We provide an answer to this question based on the quantitative predictions of a variant of the framework proposed by Mendoza and Oviedo (2007). This methodology yields forward-looking estimates of debt ratios that are consistent with fiscal solvency, for a government that faces revenue uncertainty and can issue only non-state-contingent debt. In this environment, aversion to a collapse in outlays leads the government to respect a “natural debt limit” equal to the annuity value of the primary balance in a “fiscal crisis”. A fiscal crisis occurs after a long sequence of adverse revenue shocks, and public outlays adjust to their tolerable minimum. The debt limit also represents a credible commitment to remain able to repay even in a fiscal crisis. The debt limit is not, in general, the same as the sustainable debt, which is driven by the probabilistic dynamics of the primary balance. The results of a baseline scenario question the sustainability of current debt ratios in Brazil and Colombia, while those in Costa Rica and Mexico are inside the limits consistent with fiscal solvency. In contrast, current debt ratios are found to be unsustainable in all four countries for plausible changes to lower average growth rates or higher real interest rates. Moreover, sustainable debt ratios fall sharply when default risk is taken into account.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by in its journal Economia Mexicana NUEVA EPOCA.

Volume (Year): XVIII (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (July-December)
Pages: 133-173

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Handle: RePEc:emc:ecomex:v:18:y:2009:i:2:p:133-173

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Keywords: fiscal sustainability; public debt; sovereign default; default risk; sovereign debt.;

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References

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  1. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
  3. Enrique G. Mendoza & Assaf Razin & Linda L. Tesar, 1995. "Effective Tax Rates in Macroeconomics: Cross-Country Estimates of Tax Rates on Factor Incomes and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  5. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  7. Arellano, Cristina, 2008. "Default risk and income fluctuations in emerging economies," MPRA Paper 7867, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Ernesto Talvi, 2003. "Sudden Stops, the Real Exchange Rate, and Fiscal Sustainability: Argentina's Lessons," NBER Working Papers 9828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Cristina Arellano, 2005. "Default Risk, the Real Exchange Rate and Income Fluctuations in Emerging Economies," 2005 Meeting Papers 516, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
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  12. Nigel Andrew Chalk & Richard Hemming, 2000. "Assessing Fiscal Sustainability in Theory and Practice," IMF Working Papers 00/81, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  14. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Chamon, Marcos & Mauro, Paolo, 2006. "Pricing growth-indexed bonds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3349-3366, December.
  2. Jorge Restrepo & Carlos Garcia & Evan Tanner, 2011. "Fiscal Rules in a Volatile World: A Welfare-Based Approach," IMF Working Papers 11/56, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Evan Tanner & Kevin Joseph Carey, 2005. "The Perils of Tax Smoothing: Sustainable Fiscal Policy with Random Shocks to Permanent Output," IMF Working Papers 05/207, International Monetary Fund.
  4. E. H. Gardner & Julian di Giovanni, 2008. "A Simple Stochastic Approach to Debt Sustainability Applied to Lebanon," IMF Working Papers 08/97, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Viviane Luporini, 2014. "Sustainability Of Brazilian Fiscalpolicy, Once Again: Corrective Policy Response Over Time," Anais do XL Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 40th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 064, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  6. repec:idb:brikps:22178 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Safdar Ullah Khan & Omar Farooq Saqib, 2007. "An Analysis of Pakistan s Vulnerability to Economic Crisis," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 597-610.
  8. Evan Tanner & Issouf Samaké, 2006. "Probabilistic Sustainability of Public Debt: A Vector Autoregression Approach for Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey," IMF Working Papers 06/295, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Lassila, Jukka & Valkonen, Tarmo & Alho, Juha M., 2011. "Fiscal sustainability and policy rules under changing demographic forecasts," Discussion Papers 1265, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  10. Nazim Belhocine & Salvatore Dell'Erba, 2013. "The Impact of Debt Sustainability and the Level of Debt on Emerging Markets Spreads," IMF Working Papers 13/93, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Flores Prieto, Pedro & Fullerton, Thomas M., Jr. & Andrade Olivas, Cesar, 2007. "Evidencia empirica sobre deuda externa, inversion, y crecimiento en Mexico, 1980-2003
    [Empirical evidence on foreign debt, investment, and growth in Mexico, 1980-2003]
    ," MPRA Paper 9497, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Apr 2007.
  12. Diego Valderrama, 2005. "Fiscal sustainability and contingent liabilities from recent credit expansions in South Korea and Thailand," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 29-41.
  13. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lassila , Jukka & Valkonen, Tarmo, 2008. "Population ageing and fiscal sustainability in Finland: a stochastic analysis," Research Discussion Papers 28/2008, Bank of Finland.
  15. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan David Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries: A "Fan-Chart" Approach," IMF Working Papers 06/67, International Monetary Fund.

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