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GOVERNMENT DEBT AND DEFICITS IN CANADA: A Macro Simulation Analysis

  • Tiff Macklem
  • David Rose
  • Robert Tetlow

This paper examines the macroeconomic implications of rising government debt in Canada and the short-run costs and long-run benefits of stemming the rise. The discussion begins with an evaluation of the long-run consequences of increasing government indebtedness, first based on the simple arithmetic of the government's long-run budget constraint, and then based on simulations of the Bank of Canada's main model of the Canadian economy, which incorporates several channels through which government debt may affect real economic activity. The principal conclusion is that the main economic cost of higher government debt is a lower sustainable level of domestic consumption. Simulations with the full dynamic model highlight the trade-off of short-run loss for long-run gain presented by deficit reduction. There are important short-run costs of stemming a rise in debt. However, the results of this paper show that substantial net gains are obtained from doing so, since the present value of the permanent long-term gains in consumption far outweigh these short-term costs. The simulations also suggest that a fiscal contraction would require an easing of monetary conditions relative to what they would have otherwise been to maintain an inflation target.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9506003.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 16 Jun 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9506003
Note: 51 printed pages, compressed PostScript file. Other recent Bank of Canada working papers are listed on the last page of this report. Bank of Canada WP95-4
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  1. Barro, R.J. & Martin, X.S., 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," RCER Working Papers 227, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    • Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 15-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hausman, Jerry A., 1985. "Taxes and labor supply," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 213-263 Elsevier.
  3. Frenkel, Jacob A & Razin, Assaf, 1986. "Fiscal Policies in the World Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 564-94, June.
  4. Lemieux, Thomas & Fortin, Bernard & Frechette, Pierre, 1994. "The Effect of Taxes on Labor Supply in the Underground Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 231-54, March.
  5. Douglas Laxton & Guy Meredith & David Rose, 1994. "Asymmetric Effects of Economic Activityon Inflation; Evidence and Policy Implications," IMF Working Papers 94/139, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Stephen Poloz & David Rose & Robert Tetlow, 1994. "The Bank of Canada's new Quarterly Projection Model (QPM): An introduction," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 1994(Autumn), pages 23-38.
  7. Dan Usher, 1986. "Tax Evasion and the Marginal Cost of Public Funds," Working Papers 637, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Alessandro Prati & Guido Tabellini, 1989. "Public Confidence and Debt Management: A Model and A Case Study of Italy," NBER Working Papers 3135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1985. "Tax revenue and the marginal cost of public funds in Sweden," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 331-353, August.
  10. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  11. Macklem, R Tiff, 1993. "Terms-of-Trade Disturbances and Fiscal Policy in a Small Open Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 916-36, July.
  12. P Clark & D Laxton, 1997. "Phillips Curves," CEP Discussion Papers dp0344, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. Missale, Alessandro & Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1994. "The Debt Burden and Debt Maturity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 309-19, March.
  14. Frenkel, Jacob A & Razin, Assaf, 1987. "Fiscal Policies and the World Economy; An Intertemporal Approach (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987)," MPRA Paper 20438, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Morris Goldstein & Geoffrey Woglom, 1991. "Market-Based Fiscal Discipline in Monetary Unions; Evidence From the U.S. Municipal Bond Market," IMF Working Papers 91/89, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Browning, Edgar K, 1976. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 283-98, April.
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