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Fiscal Implications of Interest Rate Normalization in the United States

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Abstract

This paper studies the fiscal implications of interest rate normalization from the zero lower bound (ZLB) in the United States. At the ZLB, the decline in tax revenues and the real bond price drives up government debt. During normalization, interest payments continue to rise higher than they would have had rates not reached the ZLB, potentially increasing government debt even as output and tax revenues recover. We find that against the yardstick of ability to pay, interest rate normalization is unlikely to pose an immediate threat to debt sustainability at the current net federal debt level of 90 to 100 percent of GDP. If the net federal debt reaches 150 percent of GDP, however, sovereign default risk can rise more quickly. We also find that a more active monetary policy better anchors inflation expectations and generates a faster recovery than a less active one, helping slow debt accumulation during normalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Huixin Bi & Wenyi Shen & Shu-Chun S. Yang, 2020. "Fiscal Implications of Interest Rate Normalization in the United States," Research Working Paper RWP 20-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:88850
    DOI: 10.18651/RWP2020-12
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    Cited by:

    1. Fotiou, Alexandra & Shen, Wenyi & Yang, Shu-Chun S., 2020. "The fiscal state-dependent effects of capital income tax cuts," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
    2. Huixin Bi & Wenyi Shen & Shu-Chun S. Yang, 2020. "U.S. Federal Debt Has Increased, but Appears Sustainable for Now," Economic Bulletin, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 1-4, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Interest rate normalization; Monetary and fiscal policy interaction; Debt sustainability; Non-linear DSGE model; New Keynesian model;

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General

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