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Debt and growth: new evidence for the euro area

  • Baum, Anja
  • Checherita-Westphal, Cristina
  • Rother, Philipp

Against the background of the euro area sovereign debt crisis, our paper investigates the relationship between public debt and economic growth and adds to the existing literature in the following ways. First, we extend the threshold panel methodology by Hansen (1999) to a dynamic setting in order to analyse the nonlinear impact of public debt on GDP growth. Second, we focus on 12 euro area countries for the period 1990-2010, therefore adding to the current discussion on debt sustainability in the euro area. Our empirical results suggest that the shortrun impact of debt on GDP growth is positive and highly statistically significant, but decreases to around zero and loses significance beyond public debt-to-GDP ratios of around 67%. This result is robust throughout most of our specifications, in the dynamic and non-dynamic threshold models alike. For high debt-to-GDP ratios (above 95%), additional debt has a negative impact on economic activity. Furthermore, we can show that the long-term interest rate is subject to increased pressure when the public debt-to-GDP ratio is above 70%, broadly supporting the above findings. JEL Classification: H63, O40, E62, C20

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1450.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20121450
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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-78, May.
  2. von Hagen, Jürgen & Schuknecht, Ludger & Wolswijk, Guido, 2011. "Government bond risk premiums in the EU revisited: The impact of the financial crisis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 36-43, March.
  3. M Arellano & O Bover, 1990. "Another Look at the Instrumental Variable Estimation of Error-Components Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp0007, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Hansen, Bruce E., 1999. "Threshold effects in non-dynamic panels: Estimation, testing, and inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 345-368, December.
  5. Kremer, Stephanie & Bick, Alexander & Nautz, Dieter, 2009. "Inflation and growth: new evidence from a dynamic panel threshold analysis," Discussion Papers 2009/9, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  6. Francesco Caselli & Gerardo Esquivel & Fernando Lefort, 1997. "Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 03, Central Bank of Chile.
  7. Jacopo Cimadomo, 2012. "Fiscal Policy in Real Time," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 440-465, 06.
  8. Schclarek, Alfredo, 2004. "Debt and Economic Growth in Developing and Industrial Countries," Working Papers 2005:34, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  9. Kazuhiko Hayakawa, 2009. "First Difference or Forward Orthogonal Deviation- Which Transformation Should be Used in Dynamic Panel Data Models?: A Simulation Study," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2008-2017.
  10. Caner, Mehmet & Hansen, Bruce E., 2004. "Instrumental Variable Estimation Of A Threshold Model," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(05), pages 813-843, October.
  11. Lorenzo Codogno & Carlo Favero & Alessandro Missale, 2003. "Yield spreads on EMU government bonds," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 503-532, October.
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