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Inflating Away the Public Debt? An Empirical Assessment

Listed author(s):
  • Hilscher, Jens
  • Raviv, Alon
  • Reis, Ricardo

We propose and implement a method that provides quantitative estimates of the extent to which higher-than-expected inflation can lower the real value of outstanding government debt. Looking forward, we derive a formula for the debt burden that relies on detailed information about debt maturity and claimholders, and that uses option prices to construct risk-adjusted probability distributions for inflation at different horizons. The estimates suggest that it is unlikely that inflation will lower the US fiscal burden significantly, and that the effect of higher inflation is modest for plausible counterfactuals. If instead inflation is combined with financial repression that ex post extends the maturity of the debt, then the reduction in value can be significant.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 10078.

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Date of creation: Jul 2014
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10078
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  1. Elisa Faraglia & Albert Marcet & Rigas Oikonomou & Andrew Scott, 2013. "The Impact of Debt Levels and Debt Maturity on Inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 164-192, 02.
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  13. Antje Berndt & Hanno Lustig & Şevin Yeltekin, 2012. "How Does the US Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 69-104, January.
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  15. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
  16. Eric M. Leeper & Xuan Zhou, 2013. "Inflation's Role in Optimal Monetary-Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 19686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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