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.

Jan Mohlmann, Wim Suyker, 01 December 2015

Olivier Blanchard and Daniel Leigh’s work on growth forecast errors and fiscal multipliers in 2009-2011 has been highly influential. This column extends their approach to recent years. The authors do not find convincing evidence for stronger-than-expected fiscal multipliers for EU countries during the sovereign debt crisis (2012-2013) or during the tepid recovery thereafter. 

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