The 90% Public Debt Threshold: The Rise and Fall of a Stylised Fact
This paper puts the original Reinhart-Rogoff dataset, made public by Herndon et al. (2013), to a formal econometric test to pin down debt threshold endogenously. We show that the nonlinear relation from debt to growth is not very robust. Taken with a pinch of salt, our results suggest, however, that there may be a tipping point at around 20% of GDP, beyond which central government debt has a negative influence on growth. Further (and greater) thresholds may exist but their magnitude is highly uncertain. For general government debt (1960-2009), the threshold beyond which negative growth effects kick in is considerably higher at about 50%. Finally, individual country estimates reveal a large amount of cross-country heterogeneity. For some countries including the United States, a nonlinear negative link can be detected at about 30% of GDP. For others, the thresholds are surrounded by a great amount of uncertainty or no nonlinearities can be established. This instability may be a result of threshold effects changing over time within countries and depending on economic conditions, not captured in our estimations. Overall, our results can be seen as a formal econometric confirmation that the 90% public debt threshold is not in the Reinhart-Rogoff data. But our results also seem to suggest that public debt might have a negative effect on economic performance kicking in at already fairly moderate public debt levels. Furthermore, the absence of threshold effects or low estimated thresholds may not preclude the emergence of further threshold effects, especially as public debt levels are rising to unprecedentedly high levels.
|Date of creation:||2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich|
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page: http://www.cesifo-group.de
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Baum, Anja & Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2013.
"Debt and growth: New evidence for the euro area,"
Journal of International Money and Finance,
Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 809-821.
- Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2014.
"Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?,"
Journal of Macroeconomics,
Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 21-41.
- Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2012. "Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?," POLIS Working Papers 168, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
- Ugo Panizza & Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2012. "Public Debt and Economic Growth: Is There a Causal Effect?," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 65, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
- Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010.
"Growth in a Time of Debt,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
7661, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Pier Carlo Padoan & Urban Sila & Paul van den Noord, 2012. "Avoiding Debt Traps: Financial Backstops and Structural Reforms," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 976, OECD Publishing.
- Doppelhofer, G. & Cuaresma, J.C., 2007.
"Nonlinearities in Cross-Country Growth Regressions: A Bayesian Averaging of Thresholds (BAT) Approach,"
Cambridge Working Papers in Economics
0706, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
- Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus & Doppelhofer, Gernot, 2007. "Nonlinearities in cross-country growth regressions: A Bayesian Averaging of Thresholds (BAT) approach," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 541-554, September.
- Jesus Crespo Cuaresma & Gernot Doppelhofer, 2006. "Nonlinearities in Cross-Country Growth Regressions: A Bayesian Averaging of Thresholds (BAT) Approach," Vienna Economics Papers 0608, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
- Jaejoon Woo & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2010. "Public Debt and Growth," IMF Working Papers 10/174, International Monetary Fund.
- Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2012.
"Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes since 1800,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 69-86, Summer.
- Thomas Herndon & Michael Ash & Robert Pollin, 2014.
"Does high public debt consistently stifle economic growth? A critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,"
Cambridge Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 257-279.
- Thomas Herndon & Michael Ash & Robert Pollin, 2013. "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogo ff," Working Papers wp322, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
- Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2011. "The real effects of debt," BIS Working Papers 352, Bank for International Settlements.
- Deniz Baglan & Emre Yoldas, 2013. "Government debt and macroeconomic activity: a predictive analysis for advanced economies," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-05, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010.
"From Financial Crash to Debt Crisis,"
NBER Working Papers
15795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2010. "The impact of high and growing government debt on economic growth: an empirical investigation for the euro area," Working Paper Series 1237, European Central Bank.
- repec:afc:wpaper:12-08 is not listed on IDEAS
- Pier Carlo Padoan & Urban Sila & Paul van den Noord, 2012. "Avoiding debt traps: Fiscal consolidation, financial backstops and structural reforms," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2012(1), pages 151-177.
This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4242. 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: (Klaus Wohlrabe)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.