The Household Fallacy

| Publication date: 5 Mar 2018 | Theme: Macroeconomics, Britain & Finance | NIESR Author(s): RFarmer | External Author(s): Zabczyk, P | JEL Classification: E0, H62 | NIESR Discussion Paper Number: 487

We refer to the idea that government must ‘tighten its belt’ as a necessary policy response to higher indebtedness as the household fallacy. We provide a reason to be skeptical of this claim that holds even if the economy always operates at full employment and all markets clear. Our argument rests on the fact that, in an overlapping-generations (OLG) model, changes in government debt cause changes in the real interest rate that redistribute the burden of repayment across generations. We do not rely on the assumption that the equilibrium is dynamically inefficient, and our argument holds in a version of the OLG model where the real interest rate is always positive.

Keyword tags: 
government budget
Publication type: