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Fiscal Fatigue, Fiscal Space and Debt Sustainability in Advanced Economies

  • Atish R. Ghosh
  • Jun I. Kim
  • Enrique G. Mendoza
  • Jonathan D. Ostry
  • Mahvash S. Qureshi

How high can public debt rise without compromising fiscal solvency? We answer this question using a stochastic ability-to-pay model of sovereign default in which risk-neutral investors lend to a government that displays "fiscal fatigue," because its ability to increase primary balances cannot keep pace with rising debt. As a result, the government faces an endogenous debt limit beyond which debt cannot be rolled-over. Using data for 23 advanced economies over 1970-2007, we find evidence of a fiscal reaction function with these features, and use it to compute "fiscal space," defined as the difference between projected debt ratios and debt limits.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16782.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as Atish R. Ghosh & Jun I. Kim & Enrique G. Mendoza & Jonathan D. Ostry & Mahvash S. Qureshi, 2013. "Fiscal Fatigue, Fiscal Space and Debt Sustainability in Advanced Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages F4-F30, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16782
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  1. Aguiar, Mark & Gopinath, Gita, 2006. "Defaultable debt, interest rates and the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 64-83, June.
  2. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Ostry, Jonathan D., 2008. "International evidence on fiscal solvency: Is fiscal policy "responsible"?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 1081-1093, September.
  3. Cristina Arellano, 2008. "Default Risk and Income Fluctuations in Emerging Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 690-712, June.
  4. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  5. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Schclarek, Alfredo, 2004. "Debt and Economic Growth in Developing and Industrial Countries," Working Papers 2005:34, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  8. Jonathan Eaton & Raquel Fernandez, 1995. "Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 5131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bohn, Henning, 2007. "Are stationarity and cointegration restrictions really necessary for the intertemporal budget constraint?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1837-1847, October.
  10. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1991. "Current and Anticipated Deficits, Interest Rates and Economic Activity," NBER Chapters, in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 361-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rzonca, Andrzej & Cizkowicz, Piotr, 2005. "Non-Keynesian effects of fiscal contraction in new member states," Working Paper Series 0519, European Central Bank.
  12. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  13. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  14. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "Political and Economic Determinants of Budget Deficits in the IndustrialDemocracies," NBER Working Papers 2682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jonathan David Ostry & Abdul Abiad, 2005. "Primary Surpluses and sustainable Debt Levels in Emerging Market Countries," IMF Policy Discussion Papers 05/6, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
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