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Real Interest Rates, Inflation, and Default

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  • Hur, Sewon
  • Kondo, Illenin
  • Perri, Fabrizio

Abstract

This paper argues that the comovement between inflation and economic activity is an important determinant of real interest rates over time and across countries. First, we show that for advanced economies, periods with more procyclical inflation are associated with lower real rates, but only when there is no risk of default on government debt. Second, we present a model of nominal sovereign debt with domestic risk-averse lenders. With procyclical inflation, nominal bonds pay out more in bad times, making them a good hedge against aggregate risk. In the absence of default risk, procyclical inflation yields lower real rates. However, procyclicality implies that the government needs to make larger (real) payments when the economy deteriorates, which could increase default risk and trigger an increase in real rates. The patterns of real rates predicted by the model are quantitatively consistent with those documented in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Hur, Sewon & Kondo, Illenin & Perri, Fabrizio, 2018. "Real Interest Rates, Inflation, and Default," CEPR Discussion Papers 13388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13388
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government Debt; Inflation risk; nominal bonds; sovereign default;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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