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Public Debt as Private Wealth

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  • Schlicht, Ekkehart

Abstract

Government bonds are interest-bearing assets. Increasing public debt increases income, wealth, and consumption demand. The smaller government expenditure is, the larger consumption demand must be in equilibrium, and the larger must be public debt. Conversely, lower public debt implies higher government spending and taxation. Public debt plays, thus, an important role in establishing equilibrium. It distributes output between consumers and government. In case of insufficient demand, a larger public debt entails higher consumption and less public spending. If upper bounds on public debt are introduced (as in the Maastricht treaty), such constraints place lower bounds on taxation and public spending or may even rule out the existence of macroeconomic equilibrium altogether. Domar(1944) and Gehrels(1957) have discussed similar issues in an unemployment setting. In contrast, this note considers the full employment case and looks at adjustments in debt, taxes and government spending that preserve full employment. The explicit modelling of some adjustment processes that have not been considered in the earlier contributions leads to somewhat different and, in a sense, more "debt-friendly" results.

Suggested Citation

  • Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2004. "Public Debt as Private Wealth," Discussion Papers in Economics 371, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:371
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1989. "The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 37-54, Spring.
    3. Berben, Robert-Paul & Brosens, Teunis, 2007. "The impact of government debt on private consumption in OECD countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 220-225, February.
    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. James M. Poterba, 2000. "Stock Market Wealth and Consumption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 99-118, Spring.
    6. Sayer, Stuart, 1989. " Macroeconomic Theory and Policy," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(4), pages 353-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Skott & Soon Ryoo, 2011. "Public debt in an OLG model with imperfect competition," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2011-25, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Ekkehart Schlicht, 2016. "Directed Technical Change and Capital Deepening: A Reconsideration of Kaldor's Technical Progress Function," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 119-151, February.
    3. Peter Skott, 2016. "Aggregate demand, functional finance, and secular stagnation," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 13(2), pages 172-188, September.
    4. Soon Ryoo & Peter Skott, 2013. "Public debt and full employment in a stock-flow consistent model of a corporate economy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 511-528.
    5. Muriel Pucci & Bruno Tinel, 2010. "Réductions d'impôts et dette publique : un lien à ne pas occulter," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 10085, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    6. Ekkehart Schlicht, 2013. "Unexpected Consequences of Ricardian Expectations," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 498-512, July.
    7. repec:ums:papers:2012-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Pedro Leão, 2013. "The Effect of Government Spending on the Debt-to-GDP Ratio: Some Keynesian Arithmetic," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 448-465, July.
    9. Nakatani, Takeshi & Skott, Peter, 2007. "Japanese growth and stagnation: A Keynesian perspective," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 306-332, September.
    10. Soon Ryoo & Peter Skott, 2017. "Fiscal and Monetary Policy Rules in an Unstable Economy," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 500-548, July.
    11. Skott Peter & Ryoo Soon, 2014. "Public debt in an OLG model with imperfect competition: long-run effects of austerity programs and changes in the growth rate," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-20, January.
    12. Skott, Peter & Ryoo, Soon, 2015. "Functional finance and intergenerational distribution in a Keynesian OLG model," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2015-13, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    13. Skott, Peter, 2016. "Weaknesses of 'wage-led growth'," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2016-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    14. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2012. "A case where Barro expectations are not rational," Economics Discussion Papers 2012-13, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    stabilization policy; government debt; public debt; functional finance; Maastricht treaty; Ricardian equivalence;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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