Budget Deficits, National Saving, and Interest Rates

83 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2011

See all articles by William G. Gale

William G. Gale

Brookings Institution

Peter R. Orszag

Lazard Asset Management

Date Written: September 2004


This paper provides new evidence that sustained budget deficits reduce national saving and raise interest rates by economically and statistically significant quantities. Using a series of econometric specifications that nest Ricardian and non-Ricardian models, we obtain evidence of strong non-Ricardian behavior in aggregate consumption. Consistent with several recent studies, we find that projected future deficits affect longterm interest rates, but current deficits do not. Our estimates suggest that each percent-of-GDP in current deficits reduces national saving by 0.5 to 0.8 percent of GDP. Each percent-of-GDP in projected future unified deficits raises forward long-term interest rates by 25 to 35 basis points, and each percent-of-GDP in projected future primary deficits raises interest rates by 40 to 70 basis points.

Keywords: deficit, budget, saving, interest rates

JEL Classification: H6, E43, E21

Suggested Citation

Gale, William G. and Orszag, Peter R., Budget Deficits, National Saving, and Interest Rates (September 2004). Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, No. 2, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1754659

William G. Gale (Contact Author)

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-797-6148 (Phone)
202-797-6181 (Fax)

Peter R. Orszag

Lazard Asset Management ( email )

30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
United States

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