The optimal quantity of debt
AbstractWe describe a model for calculating the optimal quantity of debt and then apply it to the U.S. economy. The model consists of a large number of infinitely-lived households whose saving behavior is influenced by precautionary saving motives and borrowing constraints. This model incorporates a different role for government debt than the standard representative agent growth model and captures different trade-offs between the benefits and costs of varying its level. Government debt enhances the liquidity of households by providing additional assets for smoothing consumption (in addition to claims to capital) and effectively loosening borrowing constraints. By raising the interest rate, government debt makes assets less costly to hold and more effective in smoothing consumption. However, the implied taxes have wealth distribution, incentive, and insurance effects. Further, government debt crowds out capital (via higher interest rates) and lowers per capita consumption. Our quantitative analysis suggests that the crowding out effect is decisive for welfare. We also describe variations of the model which permit endogenous growth. It turns out that even with lump sum taxes and inelastic labor, government debt as well as government consumption have growth rate effects, thereby implying large welfare gains from reducing the level of debt.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 538.
Date of creation: 1994
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 1980. "Labor supply, uncertainty, and efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 365-374, December.
- Laitner, John P, 1979. "Bequests, Golden-age Capital Accumulation and Government Debt," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 403-14, November.
- Bewley, Truman, 1983.
"A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money,"
Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-504, September.
- Barro, Robert J, 1979.
"On the Determination of the Public Debt,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
- Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1995.
"The Welfare Effects of Liquidity Constraints,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
1108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Chamley, Christophe, 1985. "Efficient Taxation in a Stylized Model of Intertemporal General Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 451-68, June.
- Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
- Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994.
"Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
- Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990.
"The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard,"
21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
- Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
- Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The welfare cost of inflation under imperfect insurance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 79-91, January.
- Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
- Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine & Michael Woodford, 1992.
"The Optimum Quantity of Money Revisited,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
2035, David K. Levine.
- McGrattan, Ellen R., 1996.
"Solving the stochastic growth model with a finite element method,"
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control,
Elsevier, vol. 20(1-3), pages 19-42.
- Ellen R. McGrattan, 1993. "Solving the stochastic growth model with a finite element method," Staff Report 164, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Mehrling, Perry, 1995. "A note on the optimum quantity of money," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 249-258.
- Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
- Díaz-Giménez, Javier & Prescott, Edward C. & Álvarez, Fernando & Fitzgerald, Terry, .
"Banking in Computable General Equilibrium Economies,"
Open Access publications from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
info:hdl:10016/4969, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
- Diaz-Gimenez, Javier & Prescott, Edward C. & Fitzgerald, Terry & Alvarez, Fernando, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 533-559.
- Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Macroeconomics with frictions," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 24-40.
- Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1989. "A Political Theory of Government Debt and Deficits in a Neo-Ricardian Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 713-32, September.
- Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
- Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
- Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading lists or Wikipedia pages:Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Janelle Ruswick).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.