Inflation Implications of Rising Government Debt
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 adjustment. We evaluate the ability of this framework to account for the fiscal behavior of six industrialized nations since 1960. We show how fiscal imbalances are mainly removed through adjustments in the primary deficit (80–100 percent), with less substantial roles being played by inflation (0–10 percent) and GDP growth (0–20 percent). Focusing on the relation between fiscal imbalances and inflation suggests extremely modest interactions. This post-World War II evidence suggests that widely anticipated future increases in fiscal deficits need not necessarily have a substantial impact on inflation.