IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Debt and Macroeconomic Stability

  • Douglas Sutherland
  • Peter Hoeller
  • Rossana Merola
  • Volker Ziemann

Debt levels have surged since the mid-1990s and have reached historic highs across the OECD. High debt levels can create vulnerabilities, which amplify and transmit macroeconomic and asset price shocks. Furthermore, high debt levels hinder the ability of households and enterprises to smooth consumption and investment and of governments to cushion adverse shocks. The empirical evidence suggests that when private sector debt levels, particularly for households, rise above trend the likelihood of recession increases. Measures of financial leverage give less warning and typically only deteriorate once the economy begins to slow and asset prices are falling. Government debt typically rises after the onset of a recession, suggesting that there is a migration of debt across balance sheets. Some policies, such as robust micro prudential regulation and frameworks to deal with debt overhangs and maintain public debt at prudent levels, can help economies withstand adverse shocks. Other policy options, such as addressing biases in tax codes that favour debt financing and targeted macro-prudential policies, will help bring down debt levels and address future run ups in debt. Endettement et stabilité macroéconomique Les niveaux d’endettement sont montés en flèche depuis le milieu des années 90 et atteignent des sommets historiques dans la zone de l’OCDE. Un endettement important peut créer des vulnérabilités, qui amplifient et répercutent les chocs macroéconomiques et les variations des prix des actifs. Par ailleurs, dans ces conditions, les ménages et les entreprises n’ont plus la possibilité de lisser leur consommation et leurs investissements et les gouvernements d’amortir les chocs négatifs. L’expérience semble indiquer que, lorsque les niveaux d’endettement du secteur privé, en particulier ceux des ménages, sont supérieurs à la tendance, la probabilité de récession s’accroît. Les indicateurs du levier financier donnent moins de signaux d’alerte et ne se détériorent généralement qu’une fois que l’activité économique commence à se ralentir et que le prix des actifs baissent. La dette publique augmente généralement après le début d’une récession, ce qui laisse penser que la dette migre entre les bilans. Certaines mesures telles que la mise en place d’une réglementation micro-prudentielle efficace et de cadres permettant de faire face au surendettement et de maintenir la dette publique à des niveaux prudents peuvent aider les économies à résister à des chocs défavorables. D’autres actions possibles, comme la correction de certains biais dans les codes des impôts qui favorisent le financement par l’emprunt et des mesures macro-prudentielles ciblées, aideront à réduire les niveaux d’endettement et à contenir le gonflement de la dette dans l’avenir.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1003.

in new window

Date of creation: 06 Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1003-en
Contact details of provider: Postal:
2 rue Andre Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16

Phone: 33-(0)-1-45 24 82 00
Fax: 33-(0)-1-45 24 85 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 1996. "Agency costs, net worth, and business fluctuations: a computable general equilibrium analysis," Working Paper 9602, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  2. Thomas Laubach, 2003. "New evidence on the interest rate effects of budget deficits and debt," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Thierry Tressel, 2010. "Financial Contagion Through Bank Deleveraging; Stylized Facts and Simulations Applied to the Financial Crisis," IMF Working Papers 10/236, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller & Balázs Égert & Oliver Röhn, 2010. "Counter-cyclical Economic Policy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 760, OECD Publishing.
  5. John R. Graham, 2000. "How Big Are the Tax Benefits of Debt?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(5), pages 1901-1941, October.
  6. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & John Moore, 1995. "Credit Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," Scholarly Articles 11129154, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Volker Ziemann, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: Debt and the Business Cycle," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1005, OECD Publishing.
  9. Linda Rousová & Paul van den Noord, 2011. "Predicting Peaks and Troughs in Real House Prices," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 882, OECD Publishing.
  10. Andra C. Ghent & Marianna Kudlyak, 2011. "Recourse and Residential Mortgage Default: Evidence from US States 1," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(9), pages 3139-3186.
  11. Diaz-Alejandro, Carlos, 1985. "Good-bye financial repression, hello financial crash," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-24.
  12. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1990. "Financial Fragility and Economic Performance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 87-114.
  13. Davis, E. Philip & Stone, Mark R., 2004. "Corporate financial structure and financial stability," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 65-91, September.
  14. Mariassunta Giannetti & Luc Laeven, 2012. "Flight Home, Flight Abroad, and International Credit Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 219-24, May.
  15. Balázs Égert, 2010. "Fiscal Policy Reaction to the Cycle in the OECD: Pro- or Counter-cyclical?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 763, OECD Publishing.
  16. Jacopo Cimadomo, 2011. "Real-Time Data and Fiscal Policy Analysis: a Survey of the Literature," Working Papers 2011-20, CEPII research center.
  17. Korinek, Anton, 2011. "Foreign currency debt, risk premia and macroeconomic volatility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 371-385, April.
  18. Òscar Jordà & Moritz HP. Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles and Crises," Working Papers Series 20, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
  19. James H. Stock & Mark W.Watson, 2003. "Forecasting Output and Inflation: The Role of Asset Prices," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 788-829, September.
  20. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1994. "The Financial Accelerator and the Flight to Quality," NBER Working Papers 4789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Balazs Egert, 2013. "Public Debt, Economic Growth and Nonlinear Effects: Myth or Reality," CESifo Working Paper Series 4157, CESifo Group Munich.
  22. Jing Yang & Kostas Tsatsaronis, 2012. "Bank stock returns, leverage and the business cycle," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
  23. Brad Setser & Nouriel Roubini & Christian Keller & Mark Allen & Christoph B. Rosenberg, 2002. "A Balance Sheet Approach to Financial Crisis," IMF Working Papers 02/210, International Monetary Fund.
  24. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
  25. Patrick Slovik & Boris Cournède, 2011. "Macroeconomic Impact of Basel III," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 844, OECD Publishing.
  26. John Y. Campbell, 2013. "Mortgage Market Design," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-33.
  27. Romain Bouis & Ane Kathrine Christensen & Boris Cournède, 2013. "Deleveraging: Challenges, Progress and Policies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1077, OECD Publishing.
  28. Michael Keen & Ruud A. de Mooij, 2012. "Debt, Taxes, and Banks," IMF Working Papers 12/48, International Monetary Fund.
  29. Feld, Lars P. & Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Capital structure choice and company taxation: A meta-study," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2850-2866.
  30. Nicola Cetorelli & Linda S. Goldberg, 2012. "Banking Globalization and Monetary Transmission," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(5), pages 1811-1843, October.
  31. Andy Mullineux & Victor Murinde & Rudra Sensarma, 2011. "Corporate financing and macroeconomic volatility in the European union," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 79-92, April.
  32. Sergei A. Davydenko & Julian R. Franks, 2008. "Do Bankruptcy Codes Matter? A Study of Defaults in France, Germany, and the U.K," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(2), pages 565-608, 04.
  33. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Martin Oehmke, 2012. "Bubbles, Financial Crises, and Systemic Risk," NBER Working Papers 18398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Jimenez Porras, G. & Ongena, S. & Peydro, J.L. & Saurina, J., 2012. "Credit Supply versus Demand : Bank and Firm Balance-Sheet Channels in Good and Crisis Times," Discussion Paper 2012-005, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  35. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller & Rossana Merola, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation: Part 1. How Much is Needed and How to Reduce Debt to a Prudent Level?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 932, OECD Publishing.
  36. Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Housing Markets and Structural Policies in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 836, OECD Publishing.
  37. Enrique G. Mendoza & Katherine A. Smith, 2004. "Quantitative Implication of A Debt-Deflation Theory of Sudden Stops and Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 10940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Joshua Aizenman & Brian Pinto & Vladyslav Sushko, 2011. "Financial Sector Ups and Downs and the Real Sector: Up by the stairs, down by the parachute," NBER Working Papers 17530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2010. "The impact of high and growing government debt on economic growth: an empirical investigation for the euro area," Working Paper Series 1237, European Central Bank.
  40. Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2011. "The real effects of debt," BIS Working Papers 352, Bank for International Settlements.
  41. Rossana Merola, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: Case studies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1004, OECD Publishing.
  42. E. Philip Davis, 2010. "Asset Prices and Real Economic Activity," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 764, OECD Publishing.
  43. Arturo Estrella & Anthony P. Rodrigues & Sebastian Schich, 2003. "How Stable is the Predictive Power of the Yield Curve? Evidence from Germany and the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 629-644, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1003-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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.