Government Debt Management: The Long and the Short of It

Authors: Elisa Faraglia, Albert Marcet, Rigas Oikonomou and Andrew Scott

Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 86, No 6, 2554-2604, November, 2019

Standard optimal Debt Management (DM) models prescribe a dominant role for long bonds and advocate against issuing short bonds. They require very large positions in order to complete markets and assume each period that governments repurchase all outstanding bonds and reissue (r/r) new ones. These features of DM are inconsistent with US data. We introduce incomplete markets via small transaction costs which serves to make optimal DM more closely resemble the data : r/r are negligible, short bond issuance substantial and persistent and short and long bonds positively co-vary. Intuitively long bonds help smooth taxes over states and short bonds over time. Solving incomplete market models with multiple assets is challenging so a further contribution of this paper is introducing a novel computational method to fi nd global solutions.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 799