IN SEARCH OF AN OPTIMAL DEBT RATIO FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH
David J. Smyth
This paper extends the work of Barro (1979), Eisner (1992), foines (1991), Sawhney and DiPietro (1994), and others and examines whether an optimal debt ratio exists that will maximize economic growth. The growth rate of real GDP is specified as a function of the debt ratio, the debt ratio squared, the growth rates of labor employment, capital services, money stock, and a trend variable. The sample ranges from 1960 to 1991. Hypothesis tests show that economic growth and its determinants, including the debt ratio are cointegrated and have a long-run stable relationship. Results also indicate that the optimal debt ratio is 38.4 percent for debt held by the public and 48.9 percent for total debt. Thus, the current (1993) debt ratios of 50.9 percent for the debt held by the public and 68.2 percent for total debt are far greater than the desirable levels. Copyright 1995 Western Economic Association International.
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