Public Debt and r - g at Risk

41 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2020

Date Written: September 25, 2020


As interest rate-growth differentials (r-g) turned negative in many countries, governments consider pursuing fiscal expansion and the potential risks involved. Using a large sample of advanced and emerging economies, our analysis suggests that high public debts can lead to adverse future r-g dynamics. Specifically, countries with higher initial public debt experience (i) a shorter duration of negative r-g episodes and a higher probability of reversal, (ii) higher average r-g, and (iii) a more right-skewed r-g distribution, that implies higher downside risks. Furthermore, high-debt countries experience larger increases in interest rates in response to (iv) an unexpected decline in domestic output and (v) an increase of global volatility. Results are stronger when public debts are denominated in foreign currencies.

Keywords: Public debt, Interest rate-growth differential, Shocks, Fiscal policy, Foreign currency debt

JEL Classification: F34, G01, Q02, G21, O19

Suggested Citation

Presbitero, Andrea and Wiriadinata, Ursula, Public Debt and r - g at Risk (September 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Andrea Presbitero (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Ursula Wiriadinata

Chicago Booth ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
3127149831 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

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