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Why have governments succeeded in reducing French public debt historically and can these successes inspired us for the future? An historical perspective since 1890

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  • Dufrénot, G.
  • Triki, K.

Abstract

The question of reducing public debt is at the heart of the current debates in France where the level of debt ratio amounted to 86% of the GDP in 2011. In this paper, we examine how the primary balance, the GDP growth rate, the real interest rate and the inflation rate have influenced the evolution of the debt ratio since the end of the 19th century. We use a methodology based on both historical and empirical analysis. Our aim is to explain why some years, the interest rate, the economic growth, the fiscal policy have helped in making public debt low, while they did not during other periods. Which historical events explained such differences? Our purpose is to think about scenarios of exit of the current French debt crisis making comparisons with the past.

Suggested Citation

  • Dufrénot, G. & Triki, K., 2012. "Why have governments succeeded in reducing French public debt historically and can these successes inspired us for the future? An historical perspective since 1890," Working papers 386, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:386
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 1065-1188, November.
    3. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2008. "Debt Sustainability in Historical Perspective: The Role of Fiscal Repression," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 657-667, 04-05.
    4. Ehrmann, Michael & Ellison, Martin & Valla, Natacha, 2003. "Regime-dependent impulse response functions in a Markov-switching vector autoregression model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 295-299, March.
    5. Alessandro Turrini, 2008. "Fiscal policy and the cycle in the Euro Area: The role of government revenue and expenditure," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 323, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    6. S M Ali Abbas & Nazim Belhocine & Asmaa El-Ganainy & Mark Horton, 2011. "Historical Patterns and Dynamics of Public Debt—Evidence From a New Database," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(4), pages 717-742, November.
    7. Barro, Robert J., 1987. "Government spending, interest rates, prices, and budget deficits in the United Kingdom, 1701-1918," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 221-247, September.
    8. Ritschl, Albrecht, 1996. "Sustainability of High Public Debt: What the Historical Record Shows," CEPR Discussion Papers 1357, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Prati, Alessandro, 1991. "Poincare's stabilization : Stopping a run on government debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 213-239, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barthélemy, J. & Marx, M., 2012. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle: New Comment," Working papers 403, Banque de France.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Debt ratio; France; historical analysis.;

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • C4 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics

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