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Sovereign default risk and state-dependent twin deficits

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  • Hürtgen, Patrick
  • Rühmkorf, Ronald

Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of the government debt-to-GDP ratio on the correlation of the fiscal balance and the current account. Above a government debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent the correlation of the two balances decreases by 0.16 in a sample of 12 euro area countries and by 0.17 for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. This paper develops a small open economy model with defaultable government debt and riskless international capital markets to explain the empirical evidence of a state-dependent change in the correlation. In the model high public debt-to-GDP ratios raise sovereign risk premia as the default probability increases, leading to higher uncertainty about future taxes. In this case precautionary savings of households increase and partially compensate current account deficits that result from fiscal deficits. The increase in households' saving reduces the correlation of the two balances by the same magnitude as documented in the data. The model calibrated to Greece matches further business cycle moments and the empirical default frequency.

Suggested Citation

  • Hürtgen, Patrick & Rühmkorf, Ronald, 2014. "Sovereign default risk and state-dependent twin deficits," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(PB), pages 357-382.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jimfin:v:48:y:2014:i:pb:p:357-382
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jimonfin.2014.05.020
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    Cited by:

    1. Matsuoka, Hideaki, 2015. "Fiscal limits and sovereign default risk in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 13-30.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Twin deficits; Current account; Fiscal limits; Sovereign default;

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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