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Debt and Deficit Ceilings, and Sustainability of Fiscal Policies: An Intertemporal Analysis

  • Uctum, Merih
  • Wickens, Michael R.

This paper examines the consequences for the sustainability of fiscal policy of imposing restrictive ceilings on deficits and debt. Our theoretical framework is a generalization of the government intertemporal budget constraint which allows for time-varying interest rates, endogenous primary deficits, a finite planning horizon and future policy shifts. We show how published forecasts can be used and we derive a measure of fiscal pressure suitable for the medium term. We find that fiscal policy is not sustainable for most industrialized countries over an infinite horizon, but is sustainable in the medium term in the absence of ceilings. Imposing ceilings, however, generates unsustainability.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1612.

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Date of creation: Mar 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1612
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  1. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1979. "Formulating and estimating dynamic linear rational expectations models," Working Papers 127, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Bharat Trehan & Carl E. Walsh, 1987. "Common trends, the government's budget constraint, and revenue smoothing," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 87-11, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Buiter, Willem H. & Corsetti, Giancarlo & Roubini, Nouriel, 1992. "`Excessive Deficits': Sense and Nonsense in the Treaty of Maastricht," CEPR Discussion Papers 750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Laurence Ball & Douglas W. Elmendorf & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "The Deficit Gamble," NBER Working Papers 5015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Wickens, M. R. & Uctum, Merih, 1993. "The sustainability of current account deficits : A test of the US intertemporal budget constraint," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 423-441, May.
  6. Eisner, Robert & Pieper, Paul J, 1986. "A New View of the Federal Debt and Budget Deficits: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1156-57, December.
  7. Smith, Gregor W & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Persistent Deficits and the Market Value of Government Debt," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(1), pages 31-44, Jan.-Marc.
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