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Debt Overhangs: Past and Present

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  • Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Vincent R. Reinhart
  • Kenneth S. Rogoff

Abstract

We identify the major public debt overhang episodes in the advanced economies since the early 1800s, characterized by public debt to GDP levels exceeding 90% for at least five years. Consistent with Reinhart and Rogoff (2010) and other more recent research, we find that public debt overhang episodes are associated with growth over one percent lower than during other periods. Perhaps the most striking new finding here is the duration of the average debt overhang episode. Among the 26 episodes we identify, 20 lasted more than a decade. Five of the six shorter episodes were immediately after World Wars I and II. Across all 26 cases, the average duration in years is about 23 years. The long duration belies the view that the correlation is caused mainly by debt buildups during business cycle recessions. The long duration also implies that cumulative shortfall in output from debt overhang is potentially massive. We find that growth effects are significant even in the many episodes where debtor countries were able to secure continual access to capital markets at relatively low real interest rates. That is, growth-reducing effects of high public debt are apparently not transmitted exclusively through high real interest rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18015.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18015

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References

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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," NBER Working Papers 15639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," NBER Working Papers 9908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003. "Debt intolerance," MPRA Paper 13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "From Financial Crash to Debt Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1676-1706, August.
  5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  6. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010. "Debt and Growth Revisited," MPRA Paper 24376, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Frits Bos, 2007. "The Dutch fiscal framework; history, current practice and the role of the CPB," CPB Document 150, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  8. Hélène Poirson & Luca Antonio Ricci & Catherine A. Pattillo, 2002. "External Debt and Growth," IMF Working Papers 02/69, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2010. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 15815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jaejoon Woo & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2010. "Public Debt and Growth," IMF Working Papers 10/174, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart, 2010. "After the fall," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 17-60.
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  1. Quote of the Week
    by Jonathan Finegold in Economic Thought on 2012-11-04 10:00:45
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Cited by:
  1. Ruthira Naraidoo & Leroi Raputsoane, 2013. "Debt sustainability and financial crises in South Africa," Working Papers 201352, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  2. Taylor, Alan M., 2012. "External Imbalances and Financial Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 9255, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dreger, Christian & Reimers, Hans-Eggert, 2012. "Does euro area membership affect the relation between GDP growth and public debt?," Discussion Papers 327, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  4. Deniz Baglan & Emre Yoldas, 2013. "Government debt and macroeconomic activity: a predictive analysis for advanced economies," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-05, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Gabrisch, Hurbert & Orlowski, Lucjan & Pusch, Toralf, 2012. "Sovereign Default Risk in the Euro-Periphery and the Euro-Candidate Countries," Working Papers 2012002, Sacred Heart University, John F. Welch College of Business.
  6. Ouyang, Alice Y. & Rajan, Ramkishen S., 2014. "What determines external debt tipping points?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 39(PA), pages 215-225.
  7. Francisco Comín, 2012. "Default, rescheduling and inflation : debt crisis in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries," Working Papers in Economic History wp12-06, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
  8. Hans-Werner Sinn & Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Zur Debatte »Sparen oder Wachstum«," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 65(10), pages 07-08, 05.
  9. Philip R. Lane, 2012. "Financial Globalisation and the Crisis," BIS Working Papers 397, Bank for International Settlements.
  10. Döhrn, Roland & Gebhardt, Heinz, 2013. "Die fiskalischen Kosten der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise," IBES Diskussionsbeiträge 198, University of Duisburg-Essen, Faculty for Economics and Business Administration.
  11. Adelino, Manuel & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2013. "Why don't Lenders renegotiate more home mortgages? Redefaults, self-cures and securitization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 835-853.
  12. David Lodge & Marta Rodriguez-Vives, 2013. "How long can austerity persist? The factors that sustain fiscal consolidations," European Journal of Government and Economics, Europa Grande, vol. 2(1), pages 5-24, June.
  13. Robert A Buckle & Amy A Cruickshank, 2013. "The Requirements for Long-Run Fiscal Sustainability," Treasury Working Paper Series 13/20, New Zealand Treasury.

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