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Off-Balance-Sheet Federal Liabilities

  • James D. Hamilton

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19253.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19253
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  1. Bencivenga, V.R. & Smith, B.D., 1988. "Some Consequences Of Credit Rationing In An Endogenous Growth Model," RCER Working Papers 159, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  7. Adam B. Ashcraft & Til Schuermann, 2008. "Understanding the securitization of subprime mortgage credit," Staff Reports 318, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. Russell Cooper & Thomas W. Ross, 2002. "Bank Runs: Deposit Insurance and Capital Requirements," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 55-72, February.
  9. James D. Hamilton & Jing Cynthia Wu, 2011. "The Effectiveness of Alternative Monetary Policy Tools in a Zero Lower Bound Environment," NBER Working Papers 16956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Paul K. Chaney & Anjan V. Thakor, 2004. "Incentive Effects of Benevolent Intervention - The case of government loan guarantees," Finance 0411047, EconWPA.
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