The Impact of Public Debt on Consumer Inflation Expectations in Europe
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Publication date: 2014-10-31
GNPJE 2014;273(5):113–132
The study analyzes the impact of public debt on consumer inflation expectations in 20 selected European countries. According to the so‑called fiscal theory of the price level, fiscal policy may influence the inflation rate. Consequently, it may also influence inflation expectations. In order to check whether or not European consumers understand the relationship proposed by the fiscal theory of the price level, the author estimates an inflation expectations equation with the public debt‑to‑GDP ratio as one of the explanatory variables. Moreover, the author analyzes the macroeconomic efficiency of inflation expectations with respect to public debt. Mackiewicz­‑Łyziak estimates the equations using panel data. The results suggest that in low‑indebted countries the public debt level does not significantly influence consumer inflation expectations. In heavily indebted countries, on the other hand, higher public debt leads to an increase in inflation expectations, the author notes. Moreover, in countries with high public debt, consumers tend to process data on debt in an effective manner, Mackiewicz­‑Łyziak says, while in low‑indebted countries expectational errors are not orthogonal with respect to information on the public debt level. The author concludes that the research points to the existence of an additional channel—an “expectations channel”—through which high public debt affects future inflation.