Public Debt Through the Ages

59 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by Barry Eichengreen

Barry Eichengreen

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Asmaa A ElGanainy

International Monetary Fund (IMF); Georgia State University

Rui Esteves

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Kris James Mitchener

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CEPR

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

We consider public debt from a long-term historical perspective, showing how the purposes for which governments borrow have evolved. Periods when debt-to-GDP ratios rose explosively as a result of wars, depressions and financial crises also have a long history. Many of these episodes resulted in debt-management problems resolved through debasements and restructurings. Less widely appreciated are successful debt consolidation episodes, instances in which governments inheriting heavy debts ran primary surpluses for long periods in order to reduce those burdens to sustainable levels. We analyze the economic and political circumstances that made these successful debt consolidation episodes possible.

Keywords: Debt History, Sovereign debt, Sovereign Debt Composition, Sovereign debt crises

JEL Classification: F3, H6, N1

Suggested Citation

Eichengreen, Barry and El-Ganainy, Asmaa and El-Ganainy, Asmaa and Esteves, Rui and Mitchener, Kris James, Public Debt Through the Ages (January 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13471. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3324205

Barry Eichengreen (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Asmaa El-Ganainy

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

Rui Esteves

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, CH-1211
Switzerland

Kris James Mitchener

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA California 95053
United States
408.554.4340 (Phone)
408.554.2331 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://lsb.scu.edu/~kmitchener/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CEPR ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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