NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Inflation Implications of Rising Government Debt

Chryssi Giannitsarou, Andrew Scott

NBER Working Paper No. 12654
Issued in October 2006
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, Monetary Economics, Public Economics

The intertemporal budget constraint of the government implies a relationship between a ratio of current liabilities to the primary deficit with future values of inflation, interest rates, GDP and narrow money growth and changes in the primary deficit. This relationship defines a natural measure of fiscal balance and can be used as an accounting identity to examine the channels through which governments achieve fiscal sustainability. We evaluate the ability of this framework to account for the fiscal behaviour of six industrialised nations since 1960. We show how fiscal imbalances are mainly removed through adjustments in the primary deficit (80-100%), with less substantial roles being played by inflation (0-10%) and GDP growth (0-20%). Focusing on the relation between fiscal imbalances and inflation suggests extremely modest interactions. This post WWII evidence suggests that the widely anticipated future increases in fiscal deficits, need not necessarily have a substantial impact on inflation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12654

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