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Finding the tipping point -- when sovereign debt turns bad

Author

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  • Caner, Mehmet
  • Grennes,Thomas
  • Koehler-Geib, Fritzi

Abstract

Public debt has surged during the current global economic crisis and is expected to increase further. This development has raised concerns whether public debt is starting to hit levels where it might negatively affect economic growth. Does such a tipping point in public debt exist? How severe would the impact of public debt be on growth beyond this threshold? What happens if debt stays above this threshold for an extended period of time? The present study addresses these questions with the help of threshold estimations based on a yearly dataset of 101 developing and developed economies spanning a time period from 1980 to 2008. The estimations establish a threshold of 77 percent public debt-to-GDP ratio. If debt is above this threshold, each additional percentage point of debt costs 0.017 percentage points of annual real growth. The effect is even more pronounced in emerging markets where the threshold is 64 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. In these countries, the loss in annual real growth with each additional percentage point in public debt amounts to 0.02 percentage points. The cumulative effect on real GDP could be substantial. Importantly, the estimations control for other variables that might impact growth, such as the initial level of per-capita-GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Caner, Mehmet & Grennes,Thomas & Koehler-Geib, Fritzi, 2010. "Finding the tipping point -- when sovereign debt turns bad," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5391, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5391
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dreger, Christian & Reimers, Hans-Eggert, 2013. "Does euro area membership affect the relation between GDP growth and public debt?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 38(PB), pages 481-486.
    2. Freytag , Andreas & Pettersson, Jonatan & Schmied, Julian, 2016. "Debt Relief and Good Governance: New Evidence," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145914, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Balázs Égert, 2015. "Public debt, economic growth and nonlinear effects: Myth or reality?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 226-238.
    4. Andrea F Presbitero, 2012. "Total Public Debt and Growth in Developing Countries," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 24(4), pages 606-626, September.
    5. repec:agr:journl:v:4(605):y:2015:i:4(605):p:189-198 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Sergey Sinelnikov-Murylev & Eugene Goryunov & Laurence Kotlikoff, 2015. "Theoretical foundations of fiscal gap as a long-term fiscal sustainability indicator and its estimates for Russia," Research Paper Series, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, pages 1-58.
    7. Furceri, Davide & Zdzienicka, Aleksandra, 2012. "How costly are debt crises?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 726-742.
    8. Goryunov, Yevgeniy, 2016. "Theoretical foundations, properties and interpretation of the budget gap indicators," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 2, pages 112-132, April.
    9. Michele Fratianni, 2011. "Riflessioni sulla politica economica italiana in occasione del 150esimo anniversario dell'Unita'," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 53, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    10. Walid BENAYED & Foued Badr GABSI & Samia OMRANE BELGUITH, 2015. "Threshold Effect of Public Debt on Domestic Investment: Evidence from Selected African Countries," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(4(605), W), pages 189-198, Winter.
    11. repec:taf:jnlbes:v:35:y:2017:i:2:p:250-264 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Laurent Callot & Mehmet Caner & Anders Bredahl Kock & Juan Andres Riquelme, 2017. "Sharp Threshold Detection Based on Sup-Norm Error Rates in High-Dimensional Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 250-264, April.
    13. Mstislav Afanasyev & Nataliya Shash, 2016. "Microeconomic Effects Of Growing Public Debt On The Russian Economy," Public administration issues, Higher School of Economics, issue 5, pages 46-59.
    14. Baharumshah, Ahmad Zubaidi & Soon, Siew-Voon & Lau, Evan, 2017. "Fiscal sustainability in an emerging market economy: When does public debt turn bad?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 99-113.
    15. Xu, Jianguo & Zhang, Xun, 2014. "China's sovereign debt: A balance-sheet perspective," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 55-73.
    16. Michele Fratianni & Antonio Maria Rinaldi & Paolo Savona, 2013. "Una proposta per ridurre il fardello del debito pubblico italiano," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 81, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.

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    Keywords

    External Debt; Economic Theory&Research; Debt Markets; Emerging Markets; Public Sector Economics;

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