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Debt sustainability in historical perspective: The role of fiscal repression

  • Joachim Voth
  • Mauricio Drelichman

This article examines the debt history of two contenders for European hegemony: 16th-century Spain and 18th-century Britain. We analyze their fiscal behavior using measures of overborrowing and fiscal policy functions. Our results suggest that stringency was not key for Britain’s success in avoiding default. Instead, fiscal repression allowed the United Kingdom to borrow at below-market rates, thereby outspending its continental rivals.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1184.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1184
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
  2. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2007. "The Sustainable Debts of Philip II: A Reconstruction of Spain's Fiscal Position, 1560-1598," CEPR Discussion Papers 6611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sussman, Nathan & Yafeh, Yishay, 2006. "Institutional Reforms, Financial Development and Sovereign Debt: Britain 1690 1790," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(04), pages 906-935, December.
  4. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2007. "The Sustainable Debts of Philip II: A Reconstruction of Castile's Fiscal Position, 1566-1596," Economics working papers drelichman-07-11-06-09-33, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 08 Apr 2010.
  5. Peter Temin & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2008. "Interest Rate Restrictions in a Natural Experiment: Loan Allocation and the Change in the Usury Laws in 1714," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 743-758, 04.
  6. Temin, Peter & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2004. "Credit Rationing and Crowding-Out During the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Hoare's Bank, 1702-1862," CEPR Discussion Papers 4453, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521457385 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Barro, Robert J., 1987. "Government spending, interest rates, prices, and budget deficits in the United Kingdom, 1701-1918," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 221-247, September.
  9. Bordo, Michael D. & White, Eugene N., 1991. "A Tale of Two Currencies: British and French Finance During the Napoleonic Wars," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 303-316, June.
  10. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan David Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries; A "Fan-Chart" Approach," IMF Working Papers 06/67, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  12. Michael D. Bordo & Eugene N. White, 1991. "British and French Finance During the Napoleonic Wars," NBER Working Papers 3517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1984. "Why Was British Growth So Slow During the Industrial Revolution?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 687-712, September.
  14. Wyplosz, Charles, 1999. "Financial Restraints and Liberalization in Postwar Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 2253, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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