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Optimal Management of Indexed and Nominal Debt

In: Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy

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  • Robert J. Barro

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

A tax-smoothing objective is used to assess the optimal composition of public debt with respect to maturity and contingencies. This objective motivates the government to make its debt payouts contingent on the levels of public outlay and the tax base. If these contingencies are present, but asset prices of non-contingent indexed debt are stochastic, then full tax smoothing dictates an optimal maturity structure of the non-contingent debt. If the certainty equivalent outlays are the same for each period, then the government should guarantee equal real payouts in each period, that is, the debt takes the form of indexed consols. This structure insulates the government¡¯s budget constraint from unpredictable variations in the market prices of indexed bonds of various maturities. If contingent debt is precluded, then the government may want to depart from a consol maturity structure to exploit covariances among public outlay, the tax base, and the term structure of real interest rates. However, if moral hazard is the reason for the preclusion of contingent debt, then this consideration also deters exploitation of these covariances and tends to return the optimal solution to the consol maturity structure. The issue of nominal bonds may allow the government to exploit the covariances among public outlay, the tax base, and the rate of inflation. But if moral-hazard explains the absence of contingent debt, then the same reasoning tends to make nominal debt issue undesirable. The bottom line is that an optimal-tax approach to public debt favors bonds that are indexed and long term.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Barro, 2002. "Optimal Management of Indexed and Nominal Debt," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Fernando Lefort & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Serie (ed.), Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 135-150 Central Bank of Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchsb:v02c05pp135-150
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gerardo M Licandro, 2001. "Monetary Policy Coordination, Monetary Integration and other essays," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000172, David K. Levine.
    2. Rubens Penha Cysne, 2007. "Public debt indexation and denomination, the case of Brazil: a comment," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(4), pages 417-425.
    3. de Mendonça, Helder Ferreira & Tiberto, Bruno Pires, 2014. "Public debt and social security: Level of formality matters," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 490-507.
    4. Michael Hatcher, 2013. "The inflation risk premium on government debt in an overlapping generations model," Working Papers 2013_17, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    5. Laura Alfaro & Fabio Kanczuk, 2009. "Debt Maturity: Is Long-Term Debt Optimal?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(5), pages 890-905, November.
    6. Matthias Doepke, "undated". "Inflation as a Redistribution Shock: Effects on Aggregates and Welfare," UCLA Economics Online Papers 412, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Westerhout, Ed & Ciocyte, Ona, 2017. "The Role of Inflation-Linked Bonds. Increasing, but Still Modest," Discussion Paper 2017-027, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    8. 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.
    9. Ellison, Martin & Scott, Andrew, 2017. "Managing the UK National Debt 1694-2017," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86148, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Kletzer, Kenneth, 2005. "International Financial Integration, Sovereignty, and Constraints on Macroeconomic Policies," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 23(S1), pages 165-186, October.
    11. Hans J. Blommestein & Anja Hubig, 2012. "A Critical Analysis of the Technical Assumptions of the Standard Micro Portfolio Approach to Sovereign Debt Management," OECD Working Papers on Sovereign Borrowing and Public Debt Management 4, OECD Publishing.
    12. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2014. "Modelling Long Bonds - The Case of Optimal Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 9965, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Vivian, Viviane Santos & Mendonça, Helder Ferreira de, 2008. "Public-debt management: the Brazilian experience," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), April.
    14. Bruno Pires Tiberto & Gabriel Caldas Montes, 2016. "A Importância Da Administração Da Dívida Pública Para A Construção Da Reputação Fiscal E Redução Do Risco-País: Evidências Empíricas Para O Brasil," Anais do XLII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 42ndd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 025, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    15. Brian P. Sack & Robert Elsasser, 2002. "Treasury inflation-indexed debt: a review of the U.S. experience," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Alfaro, Laura & Kanczuk, Fabio, 2010. "Nominal versus indexed debt: A quantitative horse race," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1706-1726, December.
    17. Miguel A. Kiguel, 1997. "Gestión de la deuda: algunas reflexiones basadas en Argentina," Research Department Publications 4105, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    18. Heng-fu Zou, 2011. "Foreign Asset Accumulation and Macroeconomic Policies in a Model of Mercantilism," CEMA Working Papers 432, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    19. Johannes Holler, 2013. "Funding Strategies of Sovereign Debt Management: A Risk Focus," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 2, pages 51-74.
    20. Balibek, Emre & Köksalan, Murat, 2010. "A multi-objective multi-period stochastic programming model for public debt management," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 205(1), pages 205-217, August.
    21. de Mendonça, Helder Ferreira & Machado, Marcelo Rangel, 2013. "Public debt management and credibility: Evidence from an emerging economy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 10-21.
    22. Wang, Gaowang & Zou, Heng-fu, 2011. "Mercantilism, Foreign Asset Accumulation and Macroeconomic Policy," MPRA Paper 34519, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Miguel A. Kiguel, 1997. "Debt Management: Some Reflections Based on Argentina," Research Department Publications 4104, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    24. Miguel A. Kiguel, 1997. "Debt Management: Some Reflections Based on Argentina," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6184, Inter-American Development Bank.
    25. Bruno Pires Tiberto & Helder Ferreira De Mendonça, 2014. "Social Security And Public Debt: Empirical Evidence For The Brazilian Economy," Anais do XLI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 41th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 066, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

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    JEL classification:

    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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