Quando pagar a dívida gera mais dívida

O FMI revelou mais um working-paper a juntar à cada vez mais vasta literatura acerca da relação entre austeridade, crescimento e dívida pública. Public Debt Dynamics: the effects of austerity, inflation and growth shocks utiliza dados dos Estados Unidos e métodos empíricos (VAR) para estimar a reacção do nível de dívida pública a vários tipos de choques. O estudo ajuda a reforçar a ideia de que as condições nas quais a austeridade se derrota a si mesma podem ser menos restritivas do que se pensava.

Using a VAR with debt feedback, we study the dynamics of the U.S. public debt in response to shocks from major macroeconomic aggregates. Our results suggest that taking into account relationships among macroeconomic variables and the dynamic effect of debt in assessing the response of debt to shocks is important. In the medium term, an austerity shock reduces the debt ratio on average. However, there is large uncertainty about the projected debt impulse response, especially in a weak economic environment. Reducing debt via austerity in the 2011 environment may lead to the opposite outcome with the debt ratio barely changing or even increasing. The policy regime in place will affect the response of debt to higher inflation. Our findings suggest that given the economic dynamics of the recent past, an inflation shock, for example due to a hike in crude oil price, would in fact increase the debt ratio after only a few quarters. Finally, we find that a positive growth shock can substantially reduce debt with none of the pain associated with austerity.

Since the debt ratio converges to its long run value of about 40 percent of GDP, a short run fix to debt may not be needed, and a long run view in reducing debt should be taken. Stimulating growth in the short run and reducing deficits when growth has taken a strong hold would be a better policy response, in line with past dynamics. If policymakers and economic agents respond to the debt buildup and their economic environment as in the past, we should expect lower deficits amid higher growth and eventually a decreasing debt ratio. The post-crisis environment may be saddled with lower potential growth and long term fiscal pressures stemming from rising health care costs and aging population. Nevertheless, reducing debt and deficits in expansionary times may still be easier to implement and less risky in terms of growth and employment effects.

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