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External Debt, Adjustment, and Growth

In: Fiscal Policy and Management in East Asia, NBER-EASE, Volume 16

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  • Delano P. Villanueva
  • Roberto S. Mariano

Abstract

High ratios of external debt to GDP in selected Asian countries have contributed to the initiation, propagation, and severity of the financial and economic crises in recent years, reflecting runaway fiscal deficits and excessive foreign borrowing by the private sector. More importantly, the servicing of large debt stocks has diverted scarce resources from investment and long-term growth. Applying and calibrating the formal framework proposed by Villanueva (2003) to Philippine data, we explore the joint dynamics of external debt, capital accumulation, and growth. The relative simplicity of the model makes it convenient to analyze the links between domestic adjustment policies, foreign borrowing, and growth. We estimate the optimal domestic saving rate that is consistent with maximum real consumption per unit of effective labor in the long run. As a by-product, we estimate the steady-state ratio of net external debt to GDP that is associated with this optimal outcome. The framework is an extension of the standard neoclassical growth model that incorporates endogenous technical change and global capital markets. The major policy implications are that in the long run, fiscal adjustment and the promotion of private saving are critical; reliance on foreign saving in a globalized financial world has limits; and when risk spreads are highly and positively correlated with rising external debt levels, unabated foreign borrowing depresses long run welfare.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Takatoshi Ito & Andrew K. Rose, 2007. "Fiscal Policy and Management in East Asia, NBER-EASE, Volume 16," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ito_07-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0380.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0380

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    1. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1988. "Comparative Advantage And Long-Run Growth," Papers 39-88, Tel Aviv.
    2. Manasse, Paolo & Roubini, Nouriel, 2009. ""Rules of thumb" for sovereign debt crises," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 192-205, July.
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    5. Roberto Mariano & Delano Villanueva, 2005. "Sustainable External Debt Levels : Estimates for Selected Asian Countries," Macroeconomics Working Papers 22468, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    6. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 323-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003. "Debt intolerance," MPRA Paper 13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A. & Romer, Paul M., 1991. "International trade with endogenous technological change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 971-1001, May.
    9. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
    10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
    11. Delano Villanueva, 1994. "Openness, Human Development, and Fiscal Policies: Effects on Economic Growth and Speed of Adjustment," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(1), pages 1-29, March.
    12. Aart Kraay & Vikram Nehru, 2006. "When Is External Debt Sustainable?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(3), pages 341-365.
    13. Axel Schimmelpfennig & Nouriel Roubini & Paolo Manasse, 2003. "Predicting Sovereign Debt Crises," IMF Working Papers 03/221, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Ichiro Otani & Delano Villanueva, 1989. "Theoretical Aspects of Growth in Developing Countries: External Debt Dynamics and the Role of Human Capital," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(2), pages 307-342, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Siti Daud & Jan Podivinsky, 2011. "Debt–Growth Nexus: A Spatial Econometrics Approach for Developing Countries," Transition Studies Review, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 1-15, September.

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