IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/harjfk/rwp15-009.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Dealing with Debt

Author

Listed:
  • Reinhart, Carmen M.

    (Harvard University)

  • Reinhart, Vincent

    (American Enterprise Institute)

  • Rogoff, Kenneth

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

This paper explores the menu of options for renormalizing public debt levels relative to nominal activity in the long run, should governments eventually decide to do so. Orthodox ones for medium-term debt stabilization, the standard fare of officialdom, include enhancing growth, running primary budget surpluses, and privatizing government assets. Heterodox polices include restructuring debt contracts, generating unexpected inflation, taxing wealth, and repressing private finance. We examine 70 episodes across 22 advanced economies from 1800 to 2014 where there were significant and sustained reductions in public debt relative to nominal GDP. In the event, advanced countries have relied far more on heterodox approaches than many observers choose to remember.

Suggested Citation

  • Reinhart, Carmen M. & Reinhart, Vincent & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2015. "Dealing with Debt," Working Paper Series rwp15-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp15-009
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=1154
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Acemoglu, Daron & Woodford, Michael (ed.), 2011. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226002125, July.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton University Press.
    3. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna, 1998. "Tales of fiscal adjustment," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(27), pages 488-545.
    6. Elmendorf, Douglas W. & Gregory Mankiw, N., 1999. "Government debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 25, pages 1615-1669, Elsevier.
    7. Rong Qian & Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "On Graduation from Default, Inflation and Banking Crises: Elusive or Illusion?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, volume 25, pages 1-36, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & M. Belen Sbrancia1, 2015. "The liquidation of government debt," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 291-333.
    9. Christian Julliard & Anisha Ghosh, 2012. "Can Rare Events Explain the Equity Premium Puzzle?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(10), pages 3037-3076.
    10. George J. Hall & Thomas J. Sargent, 2011. "Interest Rate Risk and Other Determinants of Post-WWII US Government Debt/GDP Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 192-214, July.
    11. Mauro, Paolo & Romeu, Rafael & Binder, Ariel & Zaman, Asad, 2015. "A modern history of fiscal prudence and profligacy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 55-70.
    12. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "What do budget deficits do?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 95-119.
    13. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Ostry, Jonathan D., 2008. "International evidence on fiscal solvency: Is fiscal policy "responsible"?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 1081-1093, September.
    14. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador & Emmanuel Farhi & Gita Gopinath, 2013. "Crisis and Commitment: Inflation Credibility and the Vulnerability to Sovereign Debt Crises," Working Papers 2013-4, Princeton University. Economics Department..
    15. Atish R. Ghosh & Jun I. Kim & Enrique G. Mendoza & Jonathan D. Ostry & Mahvash S. Qureshi, 2013. "Fiscal Fatigue, Fiscal Space and Debt Sustainability in Advanced Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 4-30, February.
    16. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
    17. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2006. "On the Macroeconomics of Asset Shortages," NBER Working Papers 12753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Maurice Obstfeld, 2013. "On Keeping Your Powder Dry: Fiscal Foundations of Financial and Price Stability," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 31, pages 25-38, November.
    19. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    20. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476.
    21. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 2012. "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 233-297.
    22. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
    23. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
    24. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna, 2010. "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes versus Spending," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24, pages 35-68, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    26. Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 823-866.
    27. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010. "Debt and Growth Revisited," MPRA Paper 24376, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    28. Azzimonti, Marina & de Francisco, Eva & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2012. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Raising of Public Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 8893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    29. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    30. Robert J. Barro, 1997. "Macroeconomics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 0262024365.
    31. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
    32. Jessica A. Wachter, 2013. "Can Time-Varying Risk of Rare Disasters Explain Aggregate Stock Market Volatility?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(3), pages 987-1035, June.
    33. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1991. "Current and Anticipated Deficits, Interest Rates and Economic Activity," NBER Chapters, in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 361-390, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    34. Jean Arcand & Enrico Berkes & Ugo Panizza, 2015. "Too much finance?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 105-148, June.
    35. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2012. "Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes since 1800," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 69-86, Summer.
    36. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 215-268, November.
    37. Hilscher, Jens & Raviv, Alon & Reis, Ricardo, 2014. "Inflating Away the Public Debt? An Empirical Assessment," CEPR Discussion Papers 10078, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    38. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2012. "The impact of high government debt on economic growth and its channels: An empirical investigation for the euro area," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1392-1405.
    39. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    40. Paul Krugman, 2014. "Currency Regimes, Capital Flows, and Crises," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 62(4), pages 470-493, November.
    41. Ben S. Bernanke, 2005. "The global saving glut and the U.S. current account deficit," Speech 77, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    42. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2010. "The Political Economy of the US Mortgage Default Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1967-1998, December.
    43. Broadbent, Ben & Barro, Robert J., 1997. "Central bank preferences and macroeconomic equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-43, June.
    44. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2014. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Rising Public Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2267-2302, August.
    45. Xavier Gabaix, 2012. "Variable Rare Disasters: An Exactly Solved Framework for Ten Puzzles in Macro-Finance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 645-700.
    46. Rietz, Thomas A., 1988. "The equity risk premium a solution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 117-131, July.
    47. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Chapter 1," MPRA Paper 17452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    48. Mr. Evan C Tanner, 2013. "Fiscal Sustainability: A 21st Century Guide for the Perplexed," IMF Working Papers 2013/089, International Monetary Fund.
    49. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1988. "The equity risk premium: A solution?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 133-136, July.
    50. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson & Robert Barro & José Ursúa, 2013. "Crises and Recoveries in an Empirical Model of Consumption Disasters," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 35-74, July.
    51. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2005:i:mar10 is not listed on IDEAS
    52. J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    53. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa, 2012. "Rare Macroeconomic Disasters," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 83-109, July.
    54. Dani Rodrik & Andres Velasco, 1999. "Short-Term Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 7364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    55. Robert J. Barro, 2009. "Rare Disasters, Asset Prices, and Welfare Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 243-264, March.
    56. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 2012. "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 43(1 (Spring), pages 233-297.
    57. William D. Nordhaus, 1974. "The Falling Share of Profits," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 5(1), pages 169-218.
    58. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2010. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 15815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    59. Roger W. Ferguson & William L. Wascher, 2004. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Lessons from Past Productivity Booms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
    60. Reinhard Neck & Jan-Egbert Sturm (ed.), 2008. "Sustainability of Public Debt," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262140985.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & M. Belen Sbrancia1, 2015. "The liquidation of government debt," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 291-333.
    2. Fatás, Antonio & Ghosh, Atish & Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea, 2019. "The Motives to Borrow," CEPR Discussion Papers 13735, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Eberhardt, Markus & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2015. "Public debt and growth: Heterogeneity and non-linearity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 45-58.
    4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2012. "Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes since 1800," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 69-86, Summer.
    5. Roberto Tamborini & Matteo Tomaselli, 2020. "When does public debt impair economic growth? A literature review in search of a theory," DEM Working Papers 2020/7, Department of Economics and Management.
    6. Tyler Muir, 2017. "Financial Crises and Risk Premia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(2), pages 765-809.
    7. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "A Decade of Debt," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Miguel Fuentes D. & Claudio E. Raddatz & Carmen M. Reinhart (ed.),Capital Mobility and Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 18, chapter 4, pages 97-135, Central Bank of Chile.
    8. Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2014. "Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 21-41.
    9. Stephanie Lo & Kenneth Rogoff, 2015. "Secular stagnation, debt overhang and other rationales for sluggish growth, six years on," BIS Working Papers 482, Bank for International Settlements.
    10. Kose, Ayhan & Ohnsorge, Franziska & Sugawara, Naotaka, 2020. "Benefits and Costs of Debt: The Dose Makes the Poison," CEPR Discussion Papers 14439, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Sergio Rebelo & Neng Wang & Jinqiang Yang, 2018. "Rare Disasters, Financial Development, and Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 25031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa, 2012. "Rare Macroeconomic Disasters," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 83-109, July.
    13. Mauro, Paolo & Romeu, Rafael & Binder, Ariel & Zaman, Asad, 2015. "A modern history of fiscal prudence and profligacy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 55-70.
    14. Nicholas Oulton, 2013. "Medium and long run prospects for UK growth in the aftermath of the financial crisis," Discussion Papers 1307, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    15. Catão, Luis A.V. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2014. "External liabilities and crises," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 18-32.
    16. Markus Reischmann, 2016. "Empirische Studien zu Staatsverschuldung und fiskalischen Transferzahlungen," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 63.
    17. Collard, Fabrice & Habib, Michel Antoine & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2016. "The Reluctant Defaulter: A Tale of High Government Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 11299, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Demosthenes Tambakis, 2021. "A Markov chain measure of systemic banking crisis frequency," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(16), pages 1351-1356, September.
    19. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2017. "Why Some Times Are Different: Macroeconomic Policy and the Aftermath of Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 23931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Rogoff, Kenneth, 2020. "Falling real interest rates, rising debt: A free lunch?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 778-790.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp15-009. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.