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Sustainability of High Public Debt: What the Historical Record Shows

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  • Ritschl, Albrecht

Abstract

Proposals for reducing high public debt are sometimes viewed with scepticism, both because of adverse consequences for growth and political economy considerations. This paper looks into the debt history of Britain, Germany and France, to gain more insights into why national debt was accumulated and how it was reduced. The historical evidence studied here leaves only a limited role for public choice interpretations, as most of the historical debt record was dominated by international conflict. Whichever strategy towards reducing the debt burden was adopted, there seem to be no visible effects on long-term growth performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritschl, Albrecht, 1996. "Sustainability of High Public Debt: What the Historical Record Shows," CEPR Discussion Papers 1357, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1357
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni B. Pittaluga & Elena Seghezza, 2012. "The role of Rentiers in the stabilization processes of the 1920s," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 188-210, May.
    2. Marc Flandreau & Jacques Le Cacheux, 1996. "La convergence est-elle nécessaire à la création d'une zone monétaire ? Réflexions sur l'étalon or 1880-1914," Revue de l'OFCE, Programme National Persée, vol. 58(1), pages 5-41.
    3. Schularick, Moritz, 2012. "Public debt and financial crises in the twentieth century," Discussion Papers 2012/1, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    4. Gregori Galofré-Vilà & Martin McKee & Christopher M. Meissner & David Stuckler, 2016. "The Economic Consequences of the 1953 London Debt Agreement," NBER Working Papers 22557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Albrecht Ritschl, 2012. "Reparations, Deficits, and Debt Default: the Great Depression in Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp1149, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. 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.
    7. Bindseil, Ulrich & Winkler, Adalbert, 2012. "Dual liquidity crises under alternative monetary frameworks: a financial accounts perspective," Working Paper Series 1478, European Central Bank.
    8. Dufrénot, G. & Triki, K., 2012. "Public debt ratio and its determinants in France since 1890 Does econometrics support the historical evidence?," Working papers 385, Banque de France.
    9. Ritschl, Albrecht, 2012. "The German Transfer Problem, 1920-1933: A Sovereign Debt Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 9062, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Hileman, Garrick, 2012. "The seven mechanisms for achieving sovereign debt sustainability," Economic History Working Papers 42878, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    11. Sven Steinkamp & Frank Westermann, 2017. "Multilateral Loans and Interest Rates: Further Evidence on the Seniority Conundrum," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 169-178, April.
    12. Richard N Cooper, 2006. "Almost a century of central bank cooperation," BIS Working Papers 198, Bank for International Settlements.
    13. P.Antipa, 2014. "How Fiscal Policy Affects the Price Level: Britain’s First Experience with Paper Money," Working papers 525, Banque de France.
    14. Albrecht Ritschl, 2012. "War 2008 das neue 1929? Richtige und falsche Vergleiche zwischen der Großen Depression der 1930er Jahre und der Großen Rezession von 2008," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13, pages 36-57, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Debt Retirement; Default; Growth; Reparations; War Finance;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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