The optimal quantity of debt
We describe a model for calculating the optimal quantity of debt and then apply it to the U.S. economy. The model consists of a large number of infinitely-lived households whose saving behavior is influenced by precautionary saving motives and borrowing constraints. This model incorporates a different role for government debt than the standard representative agent growth model and captures different trade-offs between the benefits and costs of varying its level. Government debt enhances the liquidity of households by providing additional assets for smoothing consumption (in addition to claims to capital) and effectively loosening borrowing constraints. By raising the interest rate, government debt makes assets less costly to hold and more effective in smoothing consumption. However, the implied taxes have wealth distribution, incentive, and insurance effects. Further, government debt crowds out capital (via higher interest rates) and lowers per capita consumption. Our quantitative analysis suggests that the crowding out effect is decisive for welfare. We also describe variations of the model which permit endogenous growth. It turns out that even with lump sum taxes and inelastic labor, government debt as well as government consumption have growth rate effects, thereby implying large welfare gains from reducing the level of debt.
|Date of creation:||1994|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 90 Hennepin Avenue, P.O. Box 291, Minneapolis, MN 55480-0291|
Phone: (612) 204-5000
Web page: http://minneapolisfed.org/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Web: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/ Email: |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The welfare cost of inflation under imperfect insurance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 79-91, January.
- Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine & Michael Woodford, 1990.
"The optimum quantity of money revisited,"
404, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Ellen R. McGrattan, 1993.
"Solving the stochastic growth model with a finite element method,"
164, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- McGrattan, Ellen R., 1996. "Solving the stochastic growth model with a finite element method," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-3), pages 19-42.
- Diaz-Gimenez, Javier & Prescott, Edward C. & Fitzgerald, Terry & Alvarez, Fernando, 1992.
"Banking in computable general equilibrium economies,"
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control,
Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 533-559.
- Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry J. Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
- Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-88, May.
- Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
- Laitner, John P, 1979. "Bequests, Golden-age Capital Accumulation and Government Debt," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 403-14, November.
- Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1995.
"The Welfare Effects of Liquidity Constraints,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
1108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Macroeconomics with frictions," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 24-40.
- S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994.
"Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
- Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990.
"The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard,"
UCLA Economics Working Papers
583, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
- Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
- Barro, Robert J, 1979.
"On the Determination of the Public Debt,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
- Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1989. "A Political Theory of Government Debt and Deficits in a Neo-Ricardian Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 713-32, September.
- Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
- Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
- Mehrling, Perry, 1995. "A note on the optimum quantity of money," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 249-258.
- Bewley, Truman, 1983.
"A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money,"
Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-504, September.
- Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
- Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 1980. "Labor supply, uncertainty, and efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 365-374, December.
- Chamley, Christophe, 1985. "Efficient Taxation in a Stylized Model of Intertemporal General Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 451-68, June.
This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:538. 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: (Janelle Ruswick)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.