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Public Debt, Fiscal Solvency and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Latin America: The Cases of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico

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  • Enrique G. Mendoza
  • P. Marcelo Oviedo

Abstract

Ratios of public debt as a share of GDP in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico were 10 percentage points higher on average during 1996-2002 than in the period 1990-1995. Costa Rica's debt ratio remained stable but at a high level near 50 percent. Is there reason to be concerned for the solvency of the public sector in these economies? We provide an answer to this question based on the quantitative predictions of a variant of the framework proposed by Mendoza and Oviedo (2004). This methodology yields forward-looking estimates of debt ratios consistent with fiscal solvency for a government that faces revenue uncertainty and can issue only non-state-contingent debt. In this environment, aversion to a collapse in outlays leads the government to respect a "natural debt limit" equal to the annuity value of the primary balance in a "fiscal crisis". A fiscl crisis occurs after a long sequence of adverse revenue shocks and public outlays adjust to a tolerable minimum. The debt limit also represents a credible commitment to be able to repay even in a fiscal crisis but is not, in general, the same as the sustainable debt, which is driven by the probabilistic dynamics of the primary balance. The results of a baseline scenario question the sustainability of current debt ratios in Brazil and Colombia, while those in Costa Rica and Mexico seem inside the limits consistent with fiscal solvency. In contrast, public debt ratios are found to be unsustainable in all four countries for plausible changes to lower average growth rates or higher real interest rates. Moreover, sustainable debt ratios fall sharply when default risk is taken into account.

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  • Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2004. "Public Debt, Fiscal Solvency and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Latin America: The Cases of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico," NBER Working Papers 10637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10637
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    Cited by:

    1. Pablo D'Erasmo & Enrique G. Mendoza & Jing Zhang, 2015. "What is a Sustainable Public Debt?," NBER Working Papers 21574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Garcia, Carlos J. & Restrepo, Jorge E. & Tanner, Evan, 2011. "Fiscal rules in a volatile world: A welfare-based approach," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 649-676, July.
    3. Gustavo Adler & Sebastian Sosa, 2016. "External Factors in Debt Sustainability Analysis: An Application to Latin America?," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 1(5), pages 81-120, June.
    4. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kopits, George & Ferrarini, Benno & Ramayandi, Arief, 2016. "Exploring Risk-Adjusted Fiscal Sustainability Analysis for Asian Economies," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 483, Asian Development Bank.
    6. Flores Prieto, Pedro & Fullerton, Thomas M., Jr. & Andrade Olivas, Cesar, 2007. "Evidencia empirica sobre deuda externa, inversion, y crecimiento en Mexico, 1980-2003
      [Empirical evidence on foreign debt, investment, and growth in Mexico, 1980-2003]
      ," MPRA Paper 9497, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Apr 2007.
    7. Alexis CRUZ-RODRÍGUEZ, 2014. "Assessing fiscal sustainability in some selected countries," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(6(595)), pages 7-22, June.
    8. Chamon, Marcos & Mauro, Paolo, 2006. "Pricing growth-indexed bonds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3349-3366, December.
    9. Hoi Wai Jackie Cheng & Ingo Pitterle, 2018. "Towards a more comprehensive assessment of fiscal space," Working Papers 153, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    10. Ovalle, Raul & Ramírez, Francisco A., 2014. "Reglas versus Discreción en la Política Fiscal: Introducción al caso Dominicano
      [Rules vs Discretion in Fiscal Policy: An Introduction to the Case of the Dominican Republic]
      ," MPRA Paper 68332, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Evan Tanner & Issouf Samake, 2008. "Probabilistic Sustainability of Public Debt: A Vector Autoregression Approach for Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 55(1), pages 149-182, April.
    12. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2493 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan D. Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries: A "Fan-Chart" Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(3), pages 1-3.
    14. Evan Tanner & Kevin Carey, 2008. "The Perils of Tax Smoothing: Sustainable Fiscal Policy with Random Shocks to Permanent Output," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 58(11-12), pages 502-524, December.
    15. Sakuragawa, Masaya & Hosono, Kaoru, 2011. "Fiscal sustainability in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 434-446.
    16. Safdar Ullah Khan & Omar Farooq Saqib, 2007. "An Analysis of Pakistan s Vulnerability to Economic Crisis," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 597-610.
    17. guo, Min & zhao, jizhi & huang, yixuan, 2014. "国家债务适度规模研究 —基于因子增强阈值模型
      [a Study of Moderate Scale of Public Debt - Based on Factor-Augmented Threshold Model]
      ," MPRA Paper 56067, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Lassila, Jukka & Valkonen, Tarmo & Alho, Juha M., 2011. "Fiscal sustainability and policy rules under changing demographic forecasts," Discussion Papers 1265, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    19. E. H. Gardner & Julian Di Giovanni, 2008. "A Simple Stochastic Approach to Debt Sustainability Applied to Lebanon," IMF Working Papers 08/97, International Monetary Fund.
    20. Viviane Luporini, 2014. "Sustainability Of Brazilian Fiscalpolicy, Once Again: Corrective Policy Response Over Time," Anais do XL Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 40th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 064, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    21. Safdar Ullah Khan & Omar Farooq Saqib, 2008. "An Analysis of Pakistan's Vulnerability to Crisis," SBP Working Paper Series 21, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department.
    22. Magnus Saxegaard, 2014. "Safe Debt and Uncertainty in Emerging Markets; An Application to South Africa," IMF Working Papers 14/231, International Monetary Fund.
    23. Diego Valderrama, 2005. "Fiscal sustainability and contingent liabilities from recent credit expansions in South Korea and Thailand," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 29-41.
    24. Valentinyi, Ákos & Pápa, Levente, 2008. "Költségvetési fenntarthatóság
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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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