IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/h/nbr/nberch/6669.html
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Federal Government Debt and Interest Rates

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19

Author

Listed:
  • Eric M. Engen
  • R. Glenn Hubbard

Abstract

Does government debt affect interest rates? Despite a substantial body of empirical analysis, the answer based on the past two decades of research is mixed. While many studies suggest, at most, a single-digit rise in the interest rate when government debt increases by one percent of GDP, others estimate either much larger effects or find no effect. Comparing results across studies is complicated by differences in economic models, definitions of econometric approaches, and sources of data. Using a standard set of data and a simple analytical framework, we reconsider and add to empirical evidence on the effect of federal government debt and interest rates. We begin by deriving analytically the effect of government debt on the real interest rate and find that an increase in government debt equivalent to one percent of GDP would be predicted to increase the real interest rate by about two to three basis points. While some existing studies estimate effects in this range, others find larger effects. In almost all cases, these larger estimates come from specifications relating federal deficits (as opposed to debt) and the level of interest rates or from specifications not controlling adequately for macroeconomic influences on interest rates that might be correlated with deficits. We present our own empirical analysis in two parts. First, we examine a variety of conventional reduced-form specifications linking interest rates and government debt and other variables. In particular, we provide estimates for three types of specifications to permit comparisons among different approaches taken in previous research; we estimate the effect of: an expected, or projected, measure of federal government debt on a forward-looking measure of the real interest rate; an expected, or projected, measure of federal government debt on a current measure of the real interest rate; and a current measure of federal government debt on a current measure of the real interest rate. Most of the statist
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Eric M. Engen & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2005. "Federal Government Debt and Interest Rates," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 83-160 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6669
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c6669.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Darrel Cohen & Glenn Follette, 2003. "Forecasting exogenous fiscal variables in the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-59, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Elmendorf, Douglas W. & Gregory Mankiw, N., 1999. "Government debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 25, pages 1615-1669 Elsevier.
    3. Kitchen, John, 2002. "A Note on Interest Rates and Structural Federal Budget Deficits," MPRA Paper 21069, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2002.
    4. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 15-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alan J. Auerbach, 2003. "Fiscal Policy, Past and Present," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 75-138.
    6. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
    7. Miller, Stephen M. & Russek, Frank S., 1996. "Do federal deficits affect interest rates? Evidence from three econometric methods," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 403-428.
    8. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Ricardian Equivalence: An Evaluation of Theory and Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 263-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D M, 2005. "Fiscal Policy in the Aftermath of 9/11," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(1), pages 1-22, February.
    10. Gale, William G. & Orszag, Peter R., 2003. "Economic Effects of Sustained Budget Deficits," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 463-485, September.
    11. Thomas Laubach, 2009. "New Evidence on the Interest Rate Effects of Budget Deficits and Debt," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 858-885, June.
    12. Stephen M. Miller & Frank S. Russek, 1991. "The Temporal Causality Between Fiscal Deficits And Interest Rates," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 9(3), pages 12-23, July.
    13. McCallum, Bennett T, 1984. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 123-135, February.
    14. Seater, John J, 1993. "Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 142-190, March.
    15. Thorbecke, Willem, 1993. "Why deficit news affects interest rates," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-11, February.
    16. Kitchen, John, 1996. "Domestic and international financial market responses to Federal deficit announcements," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 239-254, April.
    17. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
    18. James R. Barth & George Iden & Frank S. Russek, 1984. "Do Federal Deficits Really Matter?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 3(1), pages 79-95, September.
    19. Elmendorf, D.W., 1993. "Actual Budget Deficit Expectations and Interest Rates," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1639, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    20. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Kent Smetters, 2003. "Fiscal and generational imbalances: new budget measures for new budget priorities," Policy Discussion Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Dec.
    21. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "What do budget deficits do?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 95-119.
    22. Wachtel, Paul & Young, John, 1987. "Deficit Announcements and Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1007-1012, December.
    23. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
    24. repec:mes:challe:v:33:y:1990:i:2:p:59-59 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Barro, Robert J, 1992. " World Interest Rates and Investment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(2), pages 323-342.
    26. Cebula, Richard & Koch, James, 1988. "An Empirical Note on Deficits, Interest Rates, and International Capital Flows," MPRA Paper 50165, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    27. Cebula, Richard J. & Koch, James V., 1994. "Federal budget deficits, interest rates, and international capital flows: A further note," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 117-120.
    28. Quigley, Michael Regan & Porter-Hudak, Susan, 1994. "A New Approach in Analyzing the Effect of Deficit Announcements on Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 894-902, November.
    29. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1989. "A Neoclassical Perspective on Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 55-72, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6669. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.