DP11141 A comparison of nominal and indexed debt under fiscal constraints

Author(s): Roel Beetsma, Ed Westerhout
Publication Date: February 2016
Keyword(s): debt maturity, deficit, fiscal constraints, indexed debt, inflation (persistence), nominal debt, public consumption, tax revenues, wage growth, welfare
JEL(s): E62, H62, H63
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics and Finance
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11141

This paper makes a welfare comparison between the issuance of price-indexed and nominal public debt in the presence of fiscal constraints, viz. a debt constraint, a deficit constraint and a combination of both. Distortionary taxes or public consumption are regulated to avoid the violation of the relevant fiscal constraint(s). Under a debt constraint indexed debt is generally preferred, while under a deficit constraint the results are more mixed. Introducing inflation persistence and raising the maturity of the debt tends to increase the magnitude of the welfare differences between the two types of debt. Welfare differences are further affected by the degree to which public consumption and tax revenues are indexed to actual versus structural nominal GDP.