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Government debt and macroeconomic activity: a predictive analysis for advanced economies

  • Deniz Baglan
  • Emre Yoldas

This paper explores the empirical relationship between government debt and future macroeconomic activity using data on twenty advanced economies throughout the post-war era. We use robust inference techniques to deal with the bias arising from the persistent nature of debt to GDP ratio as an endogenous predictor of GDP growth. Our results show that statistical significance of the coefficient on the debt ratio in predictive regressions changes considerably with the use of robust inference techniques. For countries with relatively low average debt ratios we find a negative threshold effect as their debt ratios increase toward moderate levels. For countries with chronically high debt ratios, GDP growth slows as relative government debt increases, but we find no significant threshold effect.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2013-05.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-05
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  1. Stambaugh, Robert F., 1999. "Predictive regressions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 375-421, December.
  2. Gonzalo, Jesus & Wolf, Michael, 2005. "Subsampling inference in threshold autoregressive models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 127(2), pages 201-224, August.
  3. Hjalmarsson, Erik, 2010. "Predicting Global Stock Returns," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 49-80, February.
  4. Peter C.B. Phillips & Hyungsik R. Moon, 1999. "Nonstationary Panel Data Analysis: An Overview of Some Recent Developments," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1221, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," NBER Working Papers 15639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hodrick, Robert J, 1992. "Dividend Yields and Expected Stock Returns: Alternative Procedures for Inference and Measurement," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(3), pages 357-86.
  7. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2012. "Debt Overhangs: Past and Present," NBER Working Papers 18015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2010. "The future of public debt: prospects and implications," BIS Working Papers 300, Bank for International Settlements.
  9. Wolf, Michael, 2000. "Stock Returns and Dividend Yields Revisited: A New Way to Look at an Old Problem," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 18(1), pages 18-30, January.
  10. Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2011. "The real effects of debt," BIS Working Papers 352, Bank for International Settlements.
  11. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
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