Discussion paper

DP15950 The constraint on public debt when r < g but g < m

With real interest rates below the growth rate of the economy, but the marginal product of capital above it, the public debt can be lower than the present value of primary surpluses because of a bubble premia on the debt. The government can run a deficit forever. In a model that endogenizes the bubble premium as arising from the safety and liquidity of public debt, more government spending requires a larger bubble premium, but because people want to hold less debt, there is an upper limit on spending. Inflation reduces the fiscal space, financial repression increases it, and redistribution of wealth or income taxation have an unconventional effect on fiscal capacity through the bubble premium.


Reis, R (2021), ‘DP15950 The constraint on public debt when r < g but g < m‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15950. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15950