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Public Debt, Money Supply, and Inflation: A Cross-Country Study

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  • Goohoon Kwon
  • Lavern McFarlane
  • Wayne Robinson

Abstract

This paper provides comprehensive empirical evidence that supports the predictions of Sargent and Wallace's “unpleasant monetarist arithmetic” that an increase in public debt is typically inflationary in countries with large public debt. Drawing on an extensive panel data set, we find that the relationship holds strongly in indebted developing countries, weakly in other developing countries, and generally does not hold in developed economies. These results are robust to the inclusion of other variables, corrections for endogeneity biases, relaxation of common-slope restrictions, and are invariant over subsample periods. We estimate a vector autoregression to trace out the transmission channel and find the impulse responses consistent with the predictions of a forward-looking model of inflation. Wealth effects of public debt could also affect inflation, as posited by the fiscal theory of the price level, but we do not find supportive evidence. The results suggest that the risk of a debt-inflation trap is significant in highly indebted countries and pure money-based stabilization is unlikely to be effective over the medium term. Our findings stress the importance of institutional and structural factors in the link between fiscal policy and inflation. IMF Staff Papers (2009) 56, 476–515. doi:10.1057/imfsp.2008.26; published online 21 October 2008

Suggested Citation

  • Goohoon Kwon & Lavern McFarlane & Wayne Robinson, 2009. "Public Debt, Money Supply, and Inflation: A Cross-Country Study," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(3), pages 476-515, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:56:y:2009:i:3:p:476-515
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lin, Hsin-Yi & Chu, Hao-Pang, 2013. "Are fiscal deficits inflationary?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 214-233.
    2. Craigwell, Roland & Moore, Winston & Worrell, DeLisle, 2011. "Does Consumer Price Rigidity Exist in Barbados?," MPRA Paper 40928, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Sergey Pekarski, 2017. "Tight Money and the Sustainability of Public Debt," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 13(1), pages 191-223, February.
    4. Salahodjaev, Raufhon, 2015. "Does intelligence help fighting inflation: an empirical test?," MPRA Paper 66882, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Marian Dobranschi, 2010. "The sustainability of public debt in Romania in economic and financial crisis," Studies and Scientific Researches. Economics Edition, "Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacau, Faculty of Economic Sciences, issue 15.
    6. Pedro Teles & Harald Uhlig & João Valle e Azevedo, 2016. "Is Quantity Theory Still Alive?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(591), pages 442-464, March.
    7. José Augusto Lopes da Veiga & Alexandra Ferreira-Lopes & Tiago Neves Sequeira, 2016. "Public Debt, Economic Growth and Inflation in African Economies," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 84(2), pages 294-322, June.
    8. Lim Chia Yien & Hussin Abdullah & Muhammad Azam, 2017. "Granger Causality Analysis between Inflation, Debt and Exchange Rate: Evidence from Malaysia," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 7(1), pages 189-196, January.

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