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A note on public debt, tax-exempt bonds, and Ponzi games

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  • Wigger, Berthold U.

Abstract

By issuing tax-exempt bonds, the government can incur debt and never pay back any principal or interest, even if the economy without public debt evolves on a dynamically efficient growth path. The welfare effects of such a Ponzi type borrowing scheme are mixed. The current young will unambiguously benefit. Depending on preferences and the aggregate technology, a finite number of subsequent generations may also benefit. However, the welfare of all generations thereafter will be lower than in the economy without public debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Wigger, Berthold U., 2009. "A note on public debt, tax-exempt bonds, and Ponzi games," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 492-499, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:31:y:2009:i:3:p:492-499
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chalk, Nigel A., 2000. "The sustainability of bond-financed deficits: An overlapping generations approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 293-328, April.
    2. Ball, Laurence & Elmendorf, Douglas W & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1998. "The Deficit Gamble," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(4), pages 699-720, November.
    3. John Norregaard, 1997. "The Tax Treatment of Government Bonds," IMF Working Papers 97/25, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Galor, Oded & Ryder, Harl E., 1991. "Dynamic efficiency of steady-state equilibria in an overlapping-generations model with productive capital," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 385-390, April.
    5. Grossman, Gene M. & Yanagawa, Noriyuki, 1993. "Asset bubbles and endogenous growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 3-19, February.
    6. Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Asset Bubbles and Overlapping Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1499-1528, November.
    7. King, Ian & Ferguson, Don, 1993. "Dynamic inefficiency, endogenous growth, and Ponzi games," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 79-104, August.
    8. O'Connell, Stephen A & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1988. "Rational Ponzi Games," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(3), pages 431-450, August.
    9. Berthold Wigger, 2005. "Public Debt, Human Capital Formation, and Dynamic Inefficiency," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(1), pages 47-59, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Afonso & Jose Alves, 2015. "The Role of Government Debt in Economic Growth," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 215(4), pages 9-26, December.
    2. Narayan, Laxmi, 2017. "Growth of Public Debt in Haryana – Dynamism or Misplaced Priorities," MPRA Paper 79431, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 May 2017.
    3. Zsuzsa Mosolygó, 2011. "On the long-term trends of public debt. Implications of the government’s Ponzi game and ageing," Public Finance Quarterly, State Audit Office of Hungary, vol. 56(4), pages 446-473.
    4. Yasuoka, Masaya & Miyake, Atsushi, 2013. "Public debt, child allowances and pension benefits with endogenous fertility," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 7, pages 1-25.
    5. Uryszek Tomasz, 2015. "Long-term Sustainability Of Public Finance In The Central And Eastern EU Member States / Długoterminowe Zrównoważenie Finansów Publicznych w Krajach Europy Środkowej i Wschodniej Należących Do Ue," Comparative Economic Research, De Gruyter Open, vol. 18(4), pages 47-61, December.

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