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The Deficit Gamble

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  • Laurence Ball
  • Douglas W. Elmendorf
  • N. Gregory Mankiw

Abstract

The historical behavior of interest rates and growth rates in U.S. data suggests that the government can, with a high probability, run temporary budget deficits and then roll over the resulting government debt forever. The purpose of this paper is to document this finding and to examine its implications. Using a standard overlapping-generations model of capital accumulation, the authors show that whenever a perpetual rollover of debt succeeds, policy can make every generation better off. This conclusion does not imply that deficits are good policy, for an attempt to roll over debt forever might fail. But the adverse effects of deficits, rather than being inevitable, occur with only a small probability.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1710.

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Date of creation: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1710

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  1. repec:fth:calaec:8-93 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Romer, D., 1988. "What Are The Costs Of Excessive Deficits?," Papers 14, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  3. Bohn, H., 1990. "The Substainability Of Budget Deficits With Lump-Sum And With Income-Based Taxation," Weiss Center Working Papers 17-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  4. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1978. "Crowding Out or Crowding In? Economic Consequences of Financing Government Deficits," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(3), pages 593-641.
  5. Peled, Dan, 1982. "Informational diversity over time and the optimality of monetary equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 255-274, December.
  6. Stephen A. O'Connell & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Rational Ponzi Games," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 18-86, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    • O'Connell, Stephen A & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1988. "Rational Ponzi Games," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(3), pages 431-50, August.
  7. Bohn, Henning, 1999. "Fiscal Policy and the Mehra-Prescott Puzzle: On the Welfare Implications of Budget Deficits When Real Interest Rates Are Low," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(1), pages 1-13, February.
  8. Andrew Abel & Gregory N. Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers & Richard Zeckhauser, . "Assessing Dynamic Efficiency: Theory and Evidence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 14-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  9. Blanchard Olivier & Weil Philippe, 2001. "Dynamic Efficiency, the Riskless Rate, and Debt Ponzi Games under Uncertainty," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-23, November.
  10. Butkiewicz, James L., 1983. "The market value of outstanding government debt : Comment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 373-379.
  11. Stephen G. Cecchetti & Pok-sang Lam & Nelson C. Mark, 1988. "Mean Reversion in Equilibrium Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 2762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Cass, David, 1972. "On capital overaccumulation in the aggregative, neoclassical model of economic growth: A complete characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 200-223, April.
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  1. Crowding Out and the Perils of Oversimplified Models
    by Tom Bozzo in angry bear on 2009-01-30 22:08:00
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