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Crunch Time: Fiscal Crises and the Role of Monetary Policy

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  • David Greenlaw
  • James D. Hamilton
  • Peter Hooper
  • Frederic S. Mishkin

Abstract

Countries with high debt loads are vulnerable to an adverse feedback loop in which doubts by lenders lead to higher sovereign interest rates which in turn make the debt problems more severe. We analyze the recent experience of advanced economies using both econometric methods and case studies and conclude that countries with debt above 80% of GDP and persistent current-account deficits are vulnerable to a rapid fiscal deterioration as a result of these tipping-point dynamics. Such feedback is left out of current long-term U.S. budget projections and could make it much more difficult for the U.S. to maintain a sustainable budget course. A potential fiscal crunch also puts fundamental limits on what monetary policy is able to achieve. In simulations of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, we find that under our baseline assumptions, in 2017-18 the Fed will be running sizable income losses on its portfolio net of operating and other expenses and therefore for a time will be unable to make remittances to the U.S. Treasury. Under alternative scenarios that allow for an emergence of fiscal concerns, the Fed’s net losses would be more substantial.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19297.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19297

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Christensen, Jens H.E. & Lopez, Jose A. & Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2013. "A probability-based stress test of Federal Reserve assets and income," Working Paper Series 2013-38, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Muneesh Kapur & Rakesh Mohan, 2014. "India’s Recent Macroeconomic Performance: An Assessment and Way Forward," IMF Working Papers 14/68, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Yýlmaz Akyüz, 2014. "Crisis Mismanagement in The United States And Europe: Impact On Developing Countries And Longer-Term Consequences," Working Papers 2014/3, Turkish Economic Association.
  4. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2014. "A Fiscal-Monetary Policy Scheme Against Greek Indebtedness and Impoverishment," MPRA Paper 57080, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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