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Fiscal sustainability using growth-maximising debt targets

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  • Checherita-Westphal, Cristina
  • Hughes Hallett, Andrew
  • Rother, Philipp

Abstract

This paper highlights the importance of debt-related fiscal rules and derives growth-maximising public debt ratios from a simple theoretical model. On the basis of evidence on the productivity of public capital, we estimate public debt targets that governments should try to maintain if they wish to maximise growth for panels of OECD, EU and euro area countries, respectively. These are not arbitrary numbers, as many of the fiscal rules in the literature suggest, but are founded on long-run optimising behaviour, assuming that governments implement the so-called golden rule over the cycle; that is, they contract debt only to finance public investment. Our estimates suggest that the euro area should target debt levels of around 50% of GDP if member states are to have common targets. That is about 15 percentage points lower than the estimate for the growth-maximising debt ratio in our OECD sample and comfortably within the Stability and Growth Pact’s debt ceiling of 60% of GDP. We also indicate how forward looking budget reaction functions fit into a debt targeting framework. JEL Classification: H63, E22, O40

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1472.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20121472

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Keywords: Economic Growth; Public capital; public debt;

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Cited by:
  1. Ugo Panizza & Andrea F. Presbitero, 2013. "Public Debt and Economic Growth in Advanced Economies: A Survey," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 149(II), pages 175-204, June.
  2. Andros Kourtellos & Thanasis Stengos & Chih Ming Tan, 2012. "The Effect of Public Debt on Growth in Multiple Regimes," Working Papers 1210, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.

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