Measuring U.S. Fiscal Capacity Using Discounted Cash Flow Analysis

28 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2022

See all articles by Zhengyang Jiang

Zhengyang Jiang

Kellogg School of Management - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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: May 2022

Abstract

We use discounted cash flow analysis to measure a country's fiscal capacity. Crucially, the discount rate applied to projected cash flows includes a GDP risk premium. We apply our valuation method to the CBO's projections for the U.S. federal government's deficit between 2022 and 2051 and debt in 2051. In spite of low rates, our current measure of U.S. fiscal capacity is lower than the debt/GDP ratio. Because of the backloading of projected surpluses, the duration of the surplus claim far exceeds the duration of the outstanding Treasury portfolio. This duration mismatch exposes the government to the risk of rising rates, which would trigger the need for higher tax revenue or lower spending. Reducing this risk by front-loading the surpluses also requires major fiscal adjustment.

Keywords: fiscal capacity, Fiscal policy

JEL Classification: E62, G12

Suggested Citation

Jiang, Zhengyang and Lustig, hlustig@stanford.edu and Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn and Xiaolan, Mindy Z., Measuring U.S. Fiscal Capacity Using Discounted Cash Flow Analysis (May 2022). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP17341, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4144659

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/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hlustig@stanford.edu Lustig

Stanford University

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Columbia University Graduate School of Business ( email )

3022 Broadway
Uris Hall 809
New York, NY New York 10027
United States

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

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

ABFER ( email )

BIZ 2 Storey 4, 04-05
1 Business Link
Singapore, 117592
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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