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A Decade of Debt

  • Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Kenneth S. Rogoff

This paper presents evidence that public debts in the advanced economies have surged in recent years to levels not recorded since the end of World War II, surpassing the heights reached during the First World War and the Great Depression. At the same time, private debt levels, particularly those of financial institutions and households, are in uncharted territory and are (in varying degrees) a contingent liability of the public sector in many countries. Historically, high leverage episodes have been associated with slower economic growth and a higher incidence of default or, more generally, restructuring of public and private debts. A more subtle form of debt restructuring in the guise of "financial repression" (which had its heyday during the tightly regulated Bretton Woods system) also importantly facilitated sharper and more rapid debt reduction than would have otherwise been the case from the late 1940s to the 1970s. It is conjectured here that the pressing needs of governments to reduce debt rollover risks and curb rising interest expenditures in light of the substantial debt overhang (combined with the widespread "official aversion" to explicit restructuring) are leading to a revival of financial repression--including more directed lending to government by captive domestic audiences (such as pension funds), explicit or implicit caps on interest rates, and tighter regulation on cross-border capital movements.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16827.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as A Decade of Debt (with Carmen M Reinhart), Washington DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, September 2011.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16827
Note: IFM ME
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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-78, May.
  2. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, October.
  3. Peter H. Lindert & Peter J. Morton, 1989. "How Sovereign Debt Has Worked," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 225-236 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Enrique G. Mendoza & Marco E. Terrones, 2008. "An Anatomy Of Credit Booms: Evidence From Macro Aggregates And Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 14049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2008. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," CEMA Working Papers 595, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  6. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "From Financial Crash to Debt Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1676-1706, August.
  7. Giovannini, Alberto & de Melo, Martha, 1993. "Government Revenue from Financial Repression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 953-63, September.
  8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2002. "The Modern History of Exchange Rate Arrangements: A Reinterpretation," NBER Working Papers 8963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2010. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 15815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael Bruno & William Easterly, 1995. "Inflation Crises and Long-Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 5209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mark Aguiar & Gita Gopinath, 2004. "Defaultable debt, interest rates, and the current account," Working Papers 04-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  12. Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Natalia T. Tamirisa & Francesco Strobbe, 2010. "Bilateral Financial Linkages and Global Imbalances; A Viewon the Eve of the Financial Crisis," IMF Working Papers 10/257, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Joseph E. Gagnon & Marc Hinterschweiger, 2011. "The Global Outlook for Government Debt over the Next 25 Years: Implications for the Economy and Public Policy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 6215, May.
  14. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
  15. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Reinhart, Vincent, 2008. "Capital Flow Bonanzas: An Encompassing View of the Past and Present," CEPR Discussion Papers 6996, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
  17. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1996. "The twin crises: the causes of banking and balance-of-payments problems," International Finance Discussion Papers 544, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  18. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Daniela Klingebiel & Maria Soledad Martinez-Peria, 2001. "Is the crisis problem growing more severe?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 51-82, 04.
  19. Diaz-Alejandro, Carlos, 1985. "Good-bye financial repression, hello financial crash," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-24.
  20. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  21. Easterly, William R., 1989. "Fiscal adjustment and deficit financing during the debt crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 138, The World Bank.
  22. Barry Eichengreen, 1992. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number eich92-1, October.
  23. Gerard Caprio & Patrick Honohan, 2008. "Banking Crises," Department of Economics Working Papers 2008-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  24. Sophia, 2003. "Greek Monetary Economics in Retrospect: The Adventures of the Drachma," Working Papers 02, Bank of Greece.
  25. Carmen M. & M. Belen Sbrancia, 2011. "The Liquidation of Government Debt," Working Paper Series WP11-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  26. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973, March.
  27. John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-44, September.
  28. Olivier Jeanne, 2004. "Debt Maturity and the International Financial Architecture," IMF Working Papers 04/137, International Monetary Fund.
  29. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. V�gh, 2003. "The Unholy Trinity of Financial Contagion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 51-74, Fall.
  30. Reinhart, Carmen & Reinhart, Vincent, 2008. "Is the US too big to fail?," MPRA Paper 12976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  31. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  32. Jaejoon Woo & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2010. "Public Debt and Growth," IMF Working Papers 10/174, International Monetary Fund.
  33. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010. "Debt and Growth Revisited," MPRA Paper 24376, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  34. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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