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Is the Quantity of Government Debt a Constraint for Monetary Policy?


  • Srobona Mitra


This paper derives an interest rate rule for monetary policy in which the interest rate response of the central bank toward an increase in expected inflation falls as debts increase beyond a certain threshold level. A debt-constrained interest rate rule and the threshold level of debt are jointly estimated for Canada during the first decade of its inflation targeting regime of the 1990s. There are three main findings of this paper. First, a high government debt could constrain monetary policy if government spending-rather than taxes-is expected to adjust in future in line with debt service costs. The 'constraint' operates through an altered policy transmission mechanism through changes in the IS curve. Second, the effects of the debt-constraint on monetary policy are quite different during booms and recessions. Third, empirical estimates show that Canadian monetary policy might have been constrained by a high government debt-GDP ratio during the 1990s. Policy was less loose than what inflation indicators called for.

Suggested Citation

  • Srobona Mitra, 2007. "Is the Quantity of Government Debt a Constraint for Monetary Policy?," IMF Working Papers 07/62, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/62

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Nicoletta Batini & Andrew Haldane, 1999. "Forward-Looking Rules for Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 157-202 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. Woodford, Michael, 2001. "Fiscal Requirements for Price Stability," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(3), pages 669-728, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Svan Jari Stehn & David Vines, 2007. "Debt Stabilisation Bias And The Taylor Principle: Optimal Policy In A New Keynesian Model With Government Debt And Inflation Persistence," CAMA Working Papers 2007-22, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. Stehn, Sven Jari & Vines, David, 2008. "Strategic Interactions between an Independent Central Bank and a Myopic Government with Government Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 6913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. David A Vines & Sven Jari Stehn, 2007. "Debt Stabilization Bias and the Taylor Principle; Optimal Policy in a New Keynesian Model with Government Debt and Inflation Persistence," IMF Working Papers 07/206, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item


    Canada; Public debt; Government debt; Monetary policy; Interest rates; Interest Rate Rule; inflation; central bank; inflation rate; real interest rate;

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