Julia Estefania Flores, Davide Furceri, Siddharth Kothari, Jonathan D. Ostry, 28 May 2021

Public debt ratios have increased significantly in 2020 from already elevated levels. Current projections envisage a quick stabilisation and subsequent decline in debt ratios. This column assesses the likelihood of this projection by looking at past evidence on forecast accuracy, based on a new comprehensive dataset of medium-term debt forecasts. It finds that forecasts have systematically understated the actual evolution of debt. If the past is a guide to the future, rather than declining, debt ratios could be some 7% of GDP higher five years from now than they are today in emerging and developing countries.

Ian Dew-Becker, Stefano Giglio, 20 October 2013

Stabilisation policy should focus on the frequencies consumers care most about. This column presents evidence from stock-market returns suggesting that consumers are willing to pay the most to avoid – and are therefore most concerned about – fluctuations that last tens or hundreds of years. Modern macroeconomic theory tends to view the role of monetary policy as smoothing out inflation and unemployment over the business cycle. The authors’ findings suggest that resources would be better spent on policies that smooth out longer-run fluctuations.

Ronald Mendoza, 10 January 2009

Adverse shocks to poor households can cause significant long-term damage to their well being. This column argues that stabilisation policies ought to make protecting vulnerable families and children from shocks a central priority rather than ad hoc and ancillary in development strategies. Countries’ future economic growth and human development are at stake.

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