IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Critical Analysis of the Technical Assumptions of the Standard Micro Portfolio Approach to Sovereign Debt Management


  • Hans J. Blommestein


  • Anja Hubig

    (Humboldt University of Berlin)


This paper examines the analytical underpinnings of the standard micro portfolio approach to public debt management (PDM) that aims at minimising longer-term cash-flow based borrowing costs at an acceptable level of risk. The study concludes that two technical key assumptions need to hold for the standard micro portfolio approach to yield optimal (i.e. cost-minimising) results. We argue that these assumptions do not hold in the current borrowing environment characterized by fiscal dominance with complex links between PDM and monetary policy (MP). By using the principles of portfolio theory we demonstrate that in this borrowing environment, cost-risk optimality requires the use of a broader cost concept than employed in the standard micro portfolio approach. This new concept (referred to as effective borrowing costs) incorporates not only the cash flows of the debt portfolio itself, but also those related to primary borrowing requirements. The resulting broader cost measure includes therefore the interactions with the budget. Finally, the paper demonstrates that the standard cost-risk framework of the micro portfolio approach is nested within this new, broader cost concept.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans J. Blommestein & Anja Hubig, 2012. "A Critical Analysis of the Technical Assumptions of the Standard Micro Portfolio Approach to Sovereign Debt Management," OECD Working Papers on Sovereign Borrowing and Public Debt Management 4, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:dafaaf:4-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Barro, 2003. "Optimal Management of Indexed and Nominal Debt," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, May.
    2. Lustig, Hanno & Sleet, Christopher & Yeltekin, Sevin, 2008. "Fiscal hedging with nominal assets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 710-727, May.
    3. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    4. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2010. "In search of a theory of debt management," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 821-836, October.
    5. Elisa Faraglia & Albert Marcet & Andrew Scott, 2008. "Fiscal Insurance and Debt Management in OECD Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 363-386, March.
    6. Henry C. Simons, 1944. "On Debt Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52, pages 356-356.
    7. Lex Hoogduin & Bahar Öztürk & Peter Wierts, 2011. "Public Debt Managers' Behaviour Interactions with Macro Policies," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 62(6), pages 1105-1122.
    8. Hans J. Blommestein & Lex H. Hoogduin & Jolanda J.W. Peeters, 2010. "Uncertainty and risk management after the Great Moderation: The role of risk (mis)management by financial institutions," Chapters in SUERF Studies, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum.
    9. Emanuele Bacchiocchi & Alessandro Missale, 2005. "Managing Debt Stability," CESifo Working Paper Series 1388, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Blommestein, Hans, 2010. "Risk Management after the Great Crash," Journal of Financial Transformation, Capco Institute, vol. 28, pages 1-19.
    11. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, March.
    12. Massimo Bernaschi & Alessandro Missale & Davide Vergni, 2009. "Should Governments Minimize Debt Service Cost and Risk?," UNIMI - Research Papers in Economics, Business, and Statistics unimi-1097, Universitá degli Studi di Milano.
    13. John Lintner, 1965. "Security Prices, Risk, And Maximal Gains From Diversification," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 20(4), pages 587-615, December.
    14. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy with Noncontingent Debt and the Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131.
    15. Missale, Alessandro, 1997. " Managing the Public Debt: The Optimal Taxation Approach," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 235-265, September.
    16. Yves Nosbusch, 2008. "Interest Costs and the Optimal Maturity Structure Of Government Debt," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 477-498, March.
    17. Udaibir S Das & Jay Surti & Faisal Ahmed & Michael G. Papaioannou & Guilherme Pedras, 2010. "Managing Public Debt and Its Financial Stability Implications," IMF Working Papers 10/280, International Monetary Fund.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hans J Blommestein & Anja Hubig, 2012. "Is the standard micro portfolio approach to sovereign debt management still appropriate?," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Threat of fiscal dominance?, volume 65, pages 141-155 Bank for International Settlements.

    More about this item


    central banks; fiscal policy; government borrowing; monetary policy; public debt management; sovereign debt; sovereign risk;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:dafaaf:4-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.