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Debt and Deficit Ceilings, and Sustainability of Fiscal Policies: An Intertemporal Analysis

  • Uctum, Merih
  • Wickens, Michael

This paper examines the consequences for the sustainability of fiscal policy of imposing restrictive ceilings on deficits and debt. Our theoretical framework is a generalization of the government intertemporal budget constraint which allows for time-varying interest rates, endogenous primary deficits, a finite planning horizon and future policy shifts. We show how published forecasts can be used and we derive a measure of fiscal pressure suitable for the medium term. We find that fiscal policy is not sustainable for most industrialized countries over an infinite horizon, but is sustainable in the medium term in the absence of ceilings. Imposing ceilings, however, generates unsustainability.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Oxford in its journal Oxford Bulletin of Economics & Statistics.

Volume (Year): 62 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 197-222

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Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:62:y:2000:i:2:p:197-222
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  1. Eisner, Robert & Pieper, Paul J, 1986. "A New View of the Federal Debt and Budget Deficits: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1156-57, December.
  2. Smith, Gregor W & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Persistent Deficits and the Market Value of Government Debt," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(1), pages 31-44, Jan.-Marc.
  3. Laurence Ball & Douglas W. Elmendorf & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "The Deficit Gamble," NBER Working Papers 5015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Wickens, M. R. & Uctum, Merih, 1993. "The sustainability of current account deficits : A test of the US intertemporal budget constraint," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 423-441, May.
  5. Buiter, W.H. & Corsetti, G. & Roubini, N., 1992. "Excessive Deficits: Sense and Nonsence in the Treaty of Maastricht," Papers 674, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 1980. "Formulating and estimating dynamic linear rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 7-46, May.
  7. Bharat Trehan & Carl E. Walsh, 1987. "Common trends, the government's budget constraint, and revenue smoothing," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 87-11, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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