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Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: Case studies


  • Rossana Merola



Accumulating debt raises concerns about its implications for macroeconomic stability. This paper sheds light on the implications of high indebtedness for the macroeconomic volatility by identifying the main drivers of the evolution of debt in a set of countries. The country choice was based on large deleveraging episodes of total economy debt, identified by turning point dating. The analysis shows that GDP is more volatile in the phase of deleveraging. However, countries can be distinguished into two groups. In a first set of countries (Germany, Israel, Mexico and the United States) economic activity has often rebounded during the phase of deleveraging. On the contrary, in a second group of countries, the higher volatility during the deleveraging phase has been accompanied by sluggish economic activity. Countries in this second group (for instance, Japan and Sweden) share the common characteristic that higher indebtedness was driven by a boom in asset prices. When asset prices burst, the financial sector cuts credit supply, which weighs on economic activity. The results also suggest that many episodes of debt leveraging have been naturally driven by boom in asset price used as collateral or by financial liberalisation, which have facilitated excessive borrowing. Endettement et stabilité économique: Études de cas L’accumulation de dettes amène à se préoccuper des répercussions de ce phénomène sur la stabilité économique. Ce document met en lumière les conséquences d’un niveau élevé d’endettement du point de vue de l’instabilité macroéconomique en identifiant les principaux déterminants de l’évolution de la dette dans un certain nombre de pays. Les pays choisis ont connu de longues périodes de désendettement, identifiées par la datation du point de retournement. L’analyse montre que les PIB est plus variable au cours de la phase de désendettement. On distingue toutefois deux groupes de pays. Dans un premier groupe (Allemagne, Israël, Mexique et États-Unis), l’activité économique a souvent rebondi durant la phase de désendettement. Dans un second groupe, au contraire, la plus forte instabilité caractérisant la phase de désendettement s’est accompagnée d’une atonie de l’activité économique. Les pays du second groupe (Japon et Suède, par exemple) ont en commun le fait que leur niveau plus élevé d’endettement a été imputable à une explosion des prix des actifs. Lorsque les prix des actifs flambent, le secteur financier réduit l’offre de crédit, ce qui pèse sur l’activité économique. Les résultats semblent indiquer aussi que, dans bien des cas, les épisodes de désendettement ont fait suite naturellement à une poussée des prix des actifs utilisés comme nantissement ou à une libéralisation financière, qui a facilité un recours excessif à l’emprunt.

Suggested Citation

  • Rossana Merola, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: Case studies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1004, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1004-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5k8xb76b34r7-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Vratislav Izák, 2015. "Soukromý a veřejný dluh [Private and Public Debt]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2015(1), pages 74-90.
    2. Ashley Dunstan & Hayden Skilling, 2015. "Commercial property and financial stability," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 78, pages 1-10, March.
    3. J.M. Dixon & J. Nassios, 2018. "The Effectiveness of Investment Stimulus Policies in Australia," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-282, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    4. Ivailo Yankov, 2016. "Endogenous Elements of the Firm Indebtedness in Bulgaria," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 1, pages 126-140.
    5. Volker Ziemann, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: Debt and the Business Cycle," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1005, OECD Publishing.
    6. Dirk Bezemer & Anna Samarina, 2019. "Debt shift, financial development and income inequality," DNB Working Papers 646, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    7. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller & Rossana Merola & Volker Ziemann, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1003, OECD Publishing.
    8. Bezemer, Dirk & Zhang, Lu, 2019. "Credit composition and the severity of post-crisis recessions," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 52-66.
    9. Nassios, Jason & Giesecke, James A. & Dixon, Peter B. & Rimmer, Maureen T., 2019. "Mandated superannuation contributions and the structure of the financial sector in Australia," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 859-881.
    10. Jason Nassios & John Madden & James Giesecke & Janine Dixon & Nhi Tran & Peter Dixon & Maureen Rimmer & Philip Adams & John Freebairn, 2019. "The economic impact and efficiency of state and federal taxes in Australia," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-289, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    11. Svensson, Lars E.O., 2017. "Cost-benefit analysis of leaning against the wind," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 193-213.
    12. Dirk Bezemer, 2014. "Schumpeter might be right again: the functional differentiation of credit," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 935-950, November.
    13. Jason Nassios & James A. Giesecke & Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2016. "Superannuation and Macroeconomic Growth and Stability," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-267, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    14. Vratislav Izák, 2014. "Private and Public Debt," European Financial and Accounting Journal, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2014(1), pages 4-21.

    More about this item


    case studies; cycles; cycles; debt management; deleveraging; désendettement; Gestion de la dette; études de cas;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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