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Debt sustainability in historical perspective: The role of fiscal repression

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  • Joachim Voth

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  • Mauricio Drelichman

Abstract

This article examines the debt history of two contenders for European hegemony: 16th-century Spain and 18th-century Britain. We analyze their fiscal behavior using measures of overborrowing and fiscal policy functions. Our results suggest that stringency was not key for Britain’s success in avoiding default. Instead, fiscal repression allowed the United Kingdom to borrow at below-market rates, thereby outspending its continental rivals.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1184.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1184

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Bordo, Michael D. & White, Eugene N., 1991. "A Tale of Two Currencies: British and French Finance During the Napoleonic Wars," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 303-316, June.
  2. Temin, Peter & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2005. "Credit rationing and crowding out during the industrial revolution: evidence from Hoare's Bank, 1702-1862," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 325-348, July.
  3. Sussman, Nathan & Yafeh, Yishay, 2006. "Institutional Reforms, Financial Development and Sovereign Debt: Britain 1690 1790," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(04), pages 906-935, December.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1987. "Government spending, interest rates, prices, and budget deficits in the United Kingdom, 1701-1918," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 221-247, September.
  5. 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.
  6. Mauricio Drelichman & Joachim Voth, 2006. "The sustainable debts of Philip II: A reconstruction of Castile's fiscal position, 1566-1596," Economics Working Papers 1121, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2009.
  7. Michael D. Bordo & Eugene N. White, 1991. "British and French Finance During the Napoleonic Wars," NBER Working Papers 3517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joachim Voth & Peter Temin, 2005. "Interest rate restrictions in a natural experiment: loan allocation and the change in the usury laws in 1714," Economics Working Papers 858, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  9. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1984. "Why Was British Growth So Slow During the Industrial Revolution?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 687-712, September.
  10. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  11. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan D. Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries: A "Fan-Chart" Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(3), pages 3.
  12. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2007. "The Sustainable Debts of Philip II: A Reconstruction of Spain's Fiscal Position, 1560-1598," CEPR Discussion Papers 6611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Wyplosz, Charles, 1999. "Financial Restraints and Liberalization in Postwar Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 2253, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Neal,Larry, 1994. "The Rise of Financial Capitalism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521457385, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Nicola Gennaioli & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "State Capacity and Military Conflict," Working Papers 593, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2014. "Risk sharing with the monarch: contingent debt and excusable defaults in the age of Philip II, 1556–1598," ECON - Working Papers 145, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Dufrénot, G. & Triki, K., 2012. "Why have governments succeeded in reducing French public debt historically and can these successes inspired us for the future? An historical perspective since 1890," Working papers 386, Banque de France.
  4. Pedro de Mendonça, 2013. "Nonlinear Phenomena in a Growing Economy with Convex Adjustment Costs," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2013/05, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.

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