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Fiscal Fatigue, Fiscal Space and Debt Sustainability in Advanced Economies

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  • Atish R. Ghosh
  • Jun I. Kim
  • Enrique G. Mendoza
  • Jonathan D. Ostry
  • Mahvash S. Qureshi

Abstract

How high can public debt rise without compromising fiscal solvency? We answer this question using a stochastic ability-to-pay model of sovereign default in which risk-neutral investors lend to a government that displays "fiscal fatigue," because its ability to increase primary balances cannot keep pace with rising debt. As a result, the government faces an endogenous debt limit beyond which debt cannot be rolled-over. Using data for 23 advanced economies over 1970-2007, we find evidence of a fiscal reaction function with these features, and use it to compute "fiscal space," defined as the difference between projected debt ratios and debt limits.
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Suggested Citation

  • Atish R. Ghosh & Jun I. Kim & Enrique G. Mendoza & Jonathan D. Ostry & Mahvash S. Qureshi, 2013. "Fiscal Fatigue, Fiscal Space and Debt Sustainability in Advanced Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 4-30, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v::y:2013:i::p:f4-f30
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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