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In search of a theory of debt management

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  • Faraglia, Elisa
  • Marcet, Albert
  • Scott, Andrew

Abstract

The complete market approach to government debt management argues that a portfolio of non-contingent bonds at different maturities should be chosen so that fluctuations in market value offset changes in expected future deficits. However, this approach recommends huge fluctuations in positions, enormous changes in portfolios for minor changes in maturities and no presumption it is always optimal to issue long and invest short term in a wide array of model specifications. These extreme, volatile and unstable features are undesirable for two reasons. Firstly fragility of portfolios to small changes in assumptions means that it is often better to follow a balanced budget rather than issue the optimal debt portfolio under some possibly misspecified model. Secondly for even miniscule transaction costs, governments prefer a balanced budget rather than the large positions complete markets recommends. The complete market recommendations conflict with a number of features we believe are integral to bond market incompleteness, e.g. transaction costs, liquidity effects, robustness, etc. and which need to be explicitly incorporated into the portfolio problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2010. "In search of a theory of debt management," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 821-836, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:57:y:2010:i:7:p:821-836
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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