Fiscal Insurance and Debt Management in OECD Economies


Assuming the role of debt management is to provide hedging against fiscal shocks we consider three questions: i) what indicators can be used to assess the performance of debt management? ii) how well have historical debt management policies performed? and iii) how is that performance affected by variations in debt issuance? We consider these questions using OECD data on the market value of government debt between 1970 and 2000. Motivated by both the optimal taxation literature and broad considerations of debt stability we propose a range of performance indicators for debt management. We evaluate these using Monte Carlo analysis and find that those based on the relative persistence of debt perform best. Calculating these measures for OECD data provides only limited evidence that debt management has helped insulate policy against unexpected fiscal shocks. We also find that the degree of fiscal insurance achieved is not well connected to cross country variations in debt issuance patterns. Given the limited volatility observed in the yield curve the relatively small dispersion of debt management practices across countries makes little difference to the realised degree of fiscal insurance.
Published as: Monetary policy and exchange rate volatility in a small open economy in Review of Economic Studies , Vol. 72, No. 3, 707-734, July, 2005