The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Nicoletta Batini, Giovanni Melina, and Stefania Villa
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
We revisit the empirical relationship between private/public debt and output, and build a model that reproduces it. In the model, the government provides financial assistance to credit-constrained agents to mitigate deleveraging. As we observe in the data, surges in private debt are potentially more damaging for the economy than surges in public debt. The model suggests two policy implications. First, capping leverage leads to milder recessions, but also implies more muted expansions. Second, with fiscal buffers, financial assistance to credit-constrained agents helps avoid stagnation. The growth returns from intervention decline as the government approaches the fiscal limit.