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Debt and Deficit Fluctuations and the Structure of Bond Markets

  • Marcet, Albert
  • Scott, Andrew

The aim of this Paper is to test for the extent of incompleteness in the market for US Government debt. We show that when a government pursues an optimal tax policy and issues a full set of contingent claims, the value of debt has the same or less persistence than other variables in the economy and declines in response to higher government expenditure shocks. Examining US data, however, reveals that debt is substantially more persistent than other variables and increases in response to adverse expenditure shocks. We show that this behaviour is best accounted for by a model of incomplete markets, where governments only issue one-period risk-free bonds. We discuss the implications of this for the optimality of debt limits, debt management and assessing the sustainability of fiscal policy.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3029.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3029
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  1. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2010. "In search of a theory of debt management," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 821-836, October.
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  7. Butkiewicz, James L., 1983. "The market value of outstanding government debt : Comment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 373-379.
  8. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 519-39, August.
  9. Gorostiaga Alonso, Miren Arantzazu, 2002. "Should Fiscal Policy be different in a Non-Competitive Framework?," DFAEII Working Papers 2002-28, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  10. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Data," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1758, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James D. Hamilton & Marjorie A. Flavin, 1985. "On the Limitations of Government Borrowing: A Framework for Empirical Testing," NBER Working Papers 1632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  14. Emmanuel Farhi, 2007. "Capital Taxation and Ownership when Markets are Incomplete," NBER Working Papers 13390, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. H. Lloyd-Ellis & Xiaodong Zhu, 1998. "Fiscal Shocks and Fiscal Risk Management," Working Papers lloydell-98-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  16. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," GSIA Working Papers 1997-37, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  17. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  18. International Monetary Fund, 1995. "The Role of Foreign Currency Debt in Public Debt Management," IMF Working Papers 95/21, International Monetary Fund.
  19. Missale, Alessandro, 1999. "Public Debt Management," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290858.
  20. Bharat Trehan & Carl E. Walsh, 1988. "Testing intertemporal budget constraints: theory and applications to U. S. federal budget and current account deficits," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 88-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  21. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 2000. "Assessing the Effects of Fiscal Shocks," NBER Working Papers 7459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. den Haan, Wouter J & Marcet, Albert, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Parameterizing Expectations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 31-34, January.
  23. Zhu, Xiaodong, 1992. "Optimal fiscal policy in a stochastic growth model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 250-289, December.
  24. Cochrane, John H, 1988. "How Big Is the Random Walk in GNP?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 893-920, October.
  25. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 1993. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  28. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-V�ctor R�os-Rull, 2008. "Time-Consistent Public Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 789-808.
  29. Albert Marcet & Elisa Faraglia & Andrew Scott, 2007. "Fiscal Insurance and Debt Management in OECD Economies," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 729.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  30. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy With Noncontingent Debt And The Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131, August.
  31. Scott, Andrew, 1999. "Does Tax Smoothing Imply Smooth Taxes?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2172, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  32. Gorostiaga, A., 1999. "Should Fiscal Policy be Different in a Non-Competitive Framework?," Papers 9901, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
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  35. repec:bla:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:3:p:789-808 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Bohn, Henning, 1990. "Tax Smoothing with Financial Instruments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1217-30, December.
  37. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
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