Where is U.S. Sovereign Debt Heading? A Forecasting Model

38 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2014 Last revised: 25 Feb 2014

Date Written: January 12, 2014


We develop a debt-to-GDP forecasting framework incorporating the classical debt accounting relationship relating the debt-to-GDP ratio to its previous period value, the growth rate of the economy, the government cost of debt service, and the primary balance. We present a linearization of the debt buildup equation, and a parsimonious model of the evolution of the government borrowing costs and the primary balance dynamics. We apply our framework to the U.S. economy described by an unrestricted Vector Auto-Regression (VAR), and forecast the multi-year path of the federal debt load from 2010 onwards. We find that our forecasts are in good agreement with realized values of debt-to-GDP across 2010, 2011 and 2012. We also perform a scenario analysis under different assumptions for the persistence of the budget balance, and show that President Obama's 2009 budget projection was less realistic than one based on a historically observed persistence.

Keywords: Debt to GDP Ratio, U.S. Economy, VAR models, Sovereign debt, fiscal policy, public debt dynamics

JEL Classification: C32, C53, E62, H63, H68

Suggested Citation

Menon, Murali and Sylla, Alpha, Where is U.S. Sovereign Debt Heading? A Forecasting Model (January 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2377988 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2377988

Murali Menon

Independent ( email )

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