DRI Working Paper No. 84
By William Easterly
The Role of Growth Slowdowns and Forecast Errors in Public Debt Crises
According to the well‐known arithmetic of debt dynamics, a growth slowdown results in rising debt ratios if fiscal policy does not adjust. This mechanical effect plays a role in a surprisingly wide variety of public debt crises, from the Latin American debt crisis of the 80s and 90s to the low income HIPC crisis of the same period to the current Eurozone debt crisis and US debt crisis. Growth slowdowns often result in growth projections by fiscal authorities that are too optimistic, one of the possible reasons for which fiscal policy fails to adjust. Sound forecasting practices of projecting mean reversion and being more conservative the worse the debt situation are ignored in some major debt crises.