The Effects of Debt Intolerance and Public Debt Sustainability on Credit Ratings: Evidence From European Economies

Assistant Professor Ata Özkaya- Galatasaray University

Abstract

The question whether a government’s fiscal policy is consistent with an intertemporal budget constraint has been motivated a number of empirical studies. The econometric approach focuses on the circumstances under which a government is able to sustain its budget deficits without defaulting on its debt. In this contribution, by linking the different motives on long-run sustainability of public debt, we develop a compact step-wise test algorithm and apply that to the PIIGS countries and United Kingdom. Secondly, we introduce phase-space reconstruction methodology in order to locate the path for debt dynamics, which enables us to observe fiscal policy implications in short and medium-term. We conclude that Greece, Ireland, Portugal are characterized by unsustainable debt policies. For Italy, Spain and United Kingdom, we could not reach clear cut results. For those economies while the outcome of test algorithm indicates the sustainability of debt policy, phase-space examination shows that the reaction of the governments to diverging debt stock GDP ratio cannot be sufficient to stabilize the path for debt dynamics. Last, we measure relative credit ratings of 25 OECD countries, including Turkey and eurozone economies. Our measurement method is based on the fundamentals used for measuring public debt sustainability: GDP per capita, change in Consumer prices (CPI), and GDP ratios of; General government budget balance, General government primary balance, General government gross debt stock, Current account balance, Public foreign currency debt stock. For each country, these seven inter-related criteria are examined during three non-overlapping periods: 2005-2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. We conclude that the countries that have trouble with debt sustainability have overestimated sovereign credit ratings and hence they will eventually be revised.

pdf. WorkingPaper#011

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