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Off-Balance-Sheet Federal Liabilities

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  • James D. Hamilton

Abstract

Much attention has been given to the recent growth of the U.S. federal debt. This paper examines the growth of federal liabilities that are not included in the officially reported numbers. These take the form of implicit or explicit government guarantees and commitments. The five major categories surveyed include support for housing, other loan guarantees, deposit insurance, actions taken by the Federal Reserve, and government trust funds. The total dollar value of notional off-balance-sheet commitments came to $70 trillion as of 2012, or 6 times the size of the reported on-balance-sheet debt. The paper reviews the potential costs and benefits of these off-balance-sheet commitments and their role in precipitating or mitigating the financial crisis of 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Hamilton, 2013. "Off-Balance-Sheet Federal Liabilities," NBER Working Papers 19253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19253
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Bencivenga, Valerie R. & Smith, Bruce D., 1993. "Some consequences of credit rationing in an endogenous growth model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 97-122.
    7. Bruce D. Smith & Michael J. Stutzer, 1989. "Credit Rationing and Government Loan Programs: A Welfare Analysis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(2), pages 177-193.
    8. Chaney, Paul K. & Thakor, Anjan V., 1985. "Incentive effects of benevolent intervention : The case of government loan guarantees," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 169-189, March.
    9. Flannery, Mark J, 1996. "Financial Crises, Payment System Problems, and Discount Window Lending," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 804-824, November.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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