The U.S. Public Debt Valuation Puzzle

71 Pages Posted: 14 May 2021

See all articles by Zhengyang Jiang

Zhengyang Jiang

Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance

hlustig@stanford.edu Lustig

Stanford University

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Columbia University Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); ABFER

Mindy Z. Xiaolan

University of Texas, Austin - Department of Finance

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2021

Abstract

The market value of outstanding federal government debt in the U.S. exceeds the expected present discounted value of current and future primary surpluses by a multiple of U.S. GDP. When the pricing kernel fits U.S. equity and Treasury prices and the government surpluses are consistent with U.S. post-war data, a government debt valuation puzzle emerges. Since tax revenues are pro-cyclical while government spending is counter-cyclical, the tax revenue claim has a higher short-run discount rate and a lower value than the spending claim. Since revenue and spending are co-integrated with GDP, the long-run risk discount rates of both claims are much higher than the long Treasury yield. These forces imply a negative present value of U.S. government surpluses. Convenience yields for Treasurys are much larger than previously thought and/or U.S. Treasury markets have failed to enforce the no-bubble condition.

JEL Classification: E32, E62, G12, H20

Suggested Citation

Jiang, Zhengyang and Lustig, hlustig@stanford.edu and Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn and Xiaolan, Mindy Z., The U.S. Public Debt Valuation Puzzle (April 1, 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16082, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3846191

Zhengyang Jiang (Contact Author)

Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance ( email )

Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/jayzedwye/

Hlustig@stanford.edu Lustig

Stanford University

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Columbia University Graduate School of Business ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/svannieuwerburgh/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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ABFER ( email )

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Singapore

Mindy Z. Xiaolan

University of Texas, Austin - Department of Finance ( email )

Red McCombs School of Business
Austin, TX 78712
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/mindyxiaolan

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