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The Blind Side of Public Debt Spikes

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Listed:
  • Laura Jaramillo
  • Carlos Mulas-Granados
  • Elijah Kimani

Abstract

What explains public debt spikes since the end of WWII? To answer this question, this paper identifies 179 debt spike episodes from 1945 to 2014 across advanced and developing countries. We find that debt spikes are not rare events and their probability increases with time. We then show that large public debt spikes are neither driven by high primary deficits nor by output declines but instead by sizable stock-flow adjustments (SFAs). We also find that SFAs are poorly forecasted, which can affect debt sustainability analyses, and are associated with a higher probability of suffering non-declining debt paths in the aftermath of public debt spikes.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Jaramillo & Carlos Mulas-Granados & Elijah Kimani, 2016. "The Blind Side of Public Debt Spikes," IMF Working Papers 16/202, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:16/202
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Campos, Camila F.S. & Jaimovich, Dany & Panizza, Ugo, 2006. "The unexplained part of public debt," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 228-243, September.
    2. Jeffrey Frankel, 2011. "Over-optimism in forecasts by official budget agencies and its implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 536-562.
    3. Julio Escolano & Vitor Gaspar, 2016. "Optimal Debt Policy Under Asymmetric Risk," IMF Working Papers 16/178, International Monetary Fund.
    4. 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.
    5. Ugo Panizza & Andrea F. Presbitero, 2013. "Public Debt and Economic Growth in Advanced Economies: A Survey," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 149(II), pages 175-204, June.
    6. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
    7. S M Ali Abbas & Nazim Belhocine & Asmaa El-Ganainy & Mark Horton, 2011. "Historical Patterns and Dynamics of Public Debt—Evidence From a New Database," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(4), pages 717-742, November.
    8. Campos, Camila F.S. & Jaimovich, Dany & Panizza, Ugo, 2006. "The unexplained part of public debt," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 228-243, September.
    9. Allan Timmermann, 2007. "An Evaluation of the World Economic Outlook Forecasts," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(1), pages 1-33, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Manuel Campos & Cristina Checherita-Westphal & Pascal Jacquinot & Pablo Burriel & Francesco Caprioli, 2019. "Economic consequences of high public debt and challenges ahead for the euro area," Working Papers o201904, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    2. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Karel Verbeke, 2016. "The changing face of Rwanda's public debt," BeFinD Working Papers 0114, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. António Afonso & José Alves, 2017. "Stock-Flow Adjustments and Interest Rates," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/05, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    4. Laura Jaramillo & Carlos Mulas†Granados & Joao Tovar Jalles, 2017. "Debt spikes, blind spots, and financial stress," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 421-437, October.

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