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Inflation Implications of Rising Government Debt

  • Chryssi Giannitsarou
  • Andrew Scott

The intertemporal budget constraint of the government implies a relationship between a ratio of current liabilities to the primary deficit with future values of inflation, interest rates, GDP and narrow money growth and changes in the primary deficit. This relationship defines a natural measure of fiscal balance and can be used as an accounting identity to examine the channels through which governments achieve fiscal sustainability. We evaluate the ability of this framework to account for the fiscal behaviour of six industrialised nations since 1960. We show how fiscal imbalances are mainly removed through adjustments in the primary deficit (80-100%), with less substantial roles being played by inflation (0-10%) and GDP growth (0-20%). Focusing on the relation between fiscal imbalances and inflation suggests extremely modest interactions. This post WWII evidence suggests that the widely anticipated future increases in fiscal deficits, need not necessarily have a substantial impact on inflation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12654.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Reichlin, Lucrezia and Kenneth West. NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2006. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press , 2008.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12654
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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