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Debt-dependent effects of fiscal expansions
Economists often postulate that fiscal expansions are less stimulative when government debt is high than when it is low. Empirical evidence, however, is ambiguous. Using a nonlinear neoclassical growth model, we show that the difference in government spending effects between high- and low-debt environments depends on the wealth effect on labor supply and on whether the government uses taxes or spending to retire debt. Because of interrelated state variables, structural VAR estimations conditioning on debt alone can fail to isolate debt-dependent effects. Also, uncertainty on when the ...
Fiscal Implications of Interest Rate Normalization in the United States
This paper studies the fiscal implications of interest rate normalization from the zero lower bound (ZLB) in the United States. At the ZLB, the decline in tax revenues and the real bond price drives up government debt. During normalization, interest payments continue to rise higher than they would have had rates not reached the ZLB, potentially increasing government debt even as output and tax revenues recover. We find that against the yardstick of ability to pay, interest rate normalization is unlikely to pose an immediate threat to debt sustainability at the current net federal debt level ...
U.S. Federal Debt Has Increased, but Appears Sustainable for Now
The unprecedented fiscal stimulus packages that Congress passed earlier this year provided timely assistance to households and businesses, but also led to a sharp increase in U.S. federal government debt. We find that the current net federal debt level of about 100 percent of GDP does not pose a threat to fiscal sustainability. Over a longer horizon, debt sustainability will depend, to a large extent, on whether the federal government can curb mandatory spending or raise taxes.