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The Deficit Gamble

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Listed:
  • Ball, Laurence
  • Elmendorf, Douglas W
  • Mankiw, N Gregory

Abstract

The historical behavior of interest rates and growth rates in U.S. data suggests that the government can, with a high probability, run temporary budget deficits and then roll over the resulting government debt forever. The purpose of this paper is to document this finding and to examine its implications. Using a standard overlapping-generations model of capital accumulation, the authors show that whenever a perpetual rollover of debt succeeds, policy can make every generation better off. This conclusion does not imply that deficits are good policy, for an attempt to roll over debt forever might fail. But the adverse effects of deficits, rather than being inevitable, occur with only a small probability.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:30:y:1998:i:4:p:699-720
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Butkiewicz, James L., 1983. "The market value of outstanding government debt : Comment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 373-379.
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