What Drives Variation in the U.S. Debt/Output Ratio? The Dogs that Didn't Bark
46 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 11 May 2022
Date Written: October 2021
Higher U.S. government debt/output ratios do not forecast higher future surpluses or lower real returns on Treasurys. Neither future cash flows nor discount rates account for the variation in the current debt/output ratio. The market valuation of Treasurys is surprisingly insensitive to the macro fundamentals. Instead, the future debt/output ratio accounts for most of the variation. Systematic surplus forecast errors may help to account for these findings. Since the start of the GFC, surplus projections have anticipated a large fiscal correction that failed to materialize.
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