Finding the tipping point -- when sovereign debt turns bad
AbstractPublic debt has surged during the current global economic crisis and is expected to increase further. This development has raised concerns whether public debt is starting to hit levels where it might negatively affect economic growth. Does such a tipping point in public debt exist? How severe would the impact of public debt be on growth beyond this threshold? What happens if debt stays above this threshold for an extended period of time? The present study addresses these questions with the help of threshold estimations based on a yearly dataset of 101 developing and developed economies spanning a time period from 1980 to 2008. The estimations establish a threshold of 77 percent public debt-to-GDP ratio. If debt is above this threshold, each additional percentage point of debt costs 0.017 percentage points of annual real growth. The effect is even more pronounced in emerging markets where the threshold is 64 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. In these countries, the loss in annual real growth with each additional percentage point in public debt amounts to 0.02 percentage points. The cumulative effect on real GDP could be substantial. Importantly, the estimations control for other variables that might impact growth, such as the initial level of per-capita-GDP.
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 The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5391.
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2010
Date of revision:
External Debt; Economic Theory&Research; Debt Markets; Emerging Markets; Public Sector Economics;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-08-06 (All new papers)
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.:
- Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003.
13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Thaicharoen, Yunyong, 2002.
"Institutional Causes, Macroeconomic Symptoms: Volatility, Crises and Growth,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3575, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James & Thaicharoen, Yunyong, 2003. "Institutional causes, macroeconomic symptoms: volatility, crises and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 49-123, January.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson & Yunyong Thaicharoen, 2002. "Institutional Causes, Macroeconomic Symptoms: Volatility, Crises and Growth," NBER Working Papers 9124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Caner, Mehmet & Hansen, Bruce E., 2004. "Instrumental Variable Estimation Of A Threshold Model," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(05), pages 813-843, October.
- Catao, Luis A.V. & Terrones, Marco E., 2005.
"Fiscal deficits and inflation,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 529-554, April.
- HÃ©lÃ¨ne Poirson & Luca Antonio Ricci & Catherine A. Pattillo, 2002.
"External Debt and Growth,"
IMF Working Papers
02/69, International Monetary Fund.
- Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010.
"Growth in a Time of Debt,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
7661, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2004.
"Why doesn't capital flow from rich to poor countries? An empirical investigation,"
2004 Meeting Papers
53, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Vadym Volosovych, 2008. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries? An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 347-368, May.
- Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Vadym Volosovych, 2005. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries? An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 11901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Laura Alfaro & Vadym Volosovych, 2003. "Why doesn’t Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries? An Empirical Investigation," Working Papers 2003-01, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
- Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973.
- Tito Cordella & Luca Antonio Ricci & Marta Ruiz-Arranz, 2005. "Debt Overhang or Debt Irrelevance? Revisiting the Debt Growth Link," IMF Working Papers 05/223, International Monetary Fund.
- HÃ©lÃ¨ne Poirson & Luca Antonio Ricci & Catherine A. Pattillo, 2004. "What Are the Channels Through Which External Debt Affects Growth?," IMF Working Papers 04/15, International Monetary Fund.
- Andrea F. Presbitero, 2010.
"Total Public Debt and Growth in Developing Countries,"
Development Working Papers
300, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
- Andrea F Presbitero, 2012. "Total Public Debt and Growth in Developing Countries," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(4), pages 606-626, September.
- Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2010. "Total public debt and growth in developing countries," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 44, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
- Michele Fratianni, 2011. "Riflessioni sulla politica economica italiana in occasione del 150esimo anniversario dell'Unita'," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 53, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
- Michele Fratianni & Antonio Maria Rinaldi & Paolo Savona, 2013. "Una proposta per ridurre il fardello del debito pubblico italiano," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 81, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.