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Government Risk Premium Puzzle

Author

Listed:
  • Zhengyang Jiang

    (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University)

  • Hanno Lustig

    (Stanford University)

  • Mindy Xiaolan

    (University of Texas at Austin)

  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

The market value of outstanding government debt reflects the expected present discounted value of current and future primary surpluses. When the discount rate is consistent with the term structure of interest rates and equity prices and government spending growth dynamics are estimated from the data, a government risk premium puzzle emerges. Since tax revenues are pro-cyclical while government spending is counter-cyclical, the tax revenue claim has a higher risk premium and a lower value than the spending claim. This makes the value of the surplus claim negative, and implies that the U.S. government should be a creditor rather than a debtor. We resolve this puzzle by postulating a small but persistent component in expected spending growth, and infer it from the market value of the outstanding government bond portfolio. This component offsets the pro-cyclical movements in current surpluses, reducing its risk and increasing its value. The resulting model is used to study the optimal maturity structure of government debt, and to quantify deviations of the observed portfolio from the optimal one.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhengyang Jiang & Hanno Lustig & Mindy Xiaolan & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2019. "Government Risk Premium Puzzle," 2019 Meeting Papers 437, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed019:437
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luca Metelli & Kevin Pallara, 2020. "Fiscal space and the size of the fiscal multiplier," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1293, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    2. Wenxin Du & Carolin E. Pflueger & Jesse Schreger, 2020. "Sovereign Debt Portfolios, Bond Risks, and the Credibility of Monetary Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 75(6), pages 3097-3138, December.
    3. Nicolas Caramp, 2020. "Fiscal Policy and the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Working Papers 337, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.

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