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Article
Publication date: 17 December 2020

Wondemhunegn Ezezew Melesse

Public debt management is now an integral part of overall macroeconomic management in many developing and emerging market economies. Preventing unsustainable debt…

Abstract

Purpose

Public debt management is now an integral part of overall macroeconomic management in many developing and emerging market economies. Preventing unsustainable debt accumulation and maintaining healthy fiscal profile begins with understanding its key drivers both in the short and in the long run. The purpose of this paper is to analyze public debt and current account dynamics in Ethiopia.

Design/methodology/approach

This study applies structural vector auto-regressive (SVAR) model on annual time series data to study general government debt and current account dynamics in Ethiopia for the period 1980–2018.

Findings

Both the impulse response and forecast error variance decomposition results confirm that fiscal balance exerts the strongest influence on both government debt and current account balance in the short run. In addition, own shock as well as shocks stemming from gross fixed capital formation and growth have significant effects on general government debt. The findings were robust to alternative data transformation, differing Choleski ordering of the model variables, and inclusion of exogenous deterministic terms that capture changes in the political landscape.

Practical implications

The most important implication is that since fiscal balance is the strongest determinant of both public debt and current account balance, public investment efficiency is relevant here than anywhere else in the national economy. A recent study by Barhoumi et al. (2018) found that the sub-Saharan region lags behind its peers in terms of public sector investment efficiency with inefficiency gap of as large as 54% depending on the indicator variable for public investment output. Improving public investment spending efficiency would reduce government debt by enhancing productivity and growth – which has significant negative effect on public debt.

Originality/value

First, the few studies conducted on Ethiopia are dominated by single equation specifications and do not account for the possibility of endogenous feedback effects among the model variables. Second, still equally important is the role of rising gross fixed capital formation in Ethiopia, which increased from about 13% (relative to GDP) in the 1980s to about 35% in the 2010s. Ignoring this variable amounts to a major model misspecification when analyzing short-run macro dynamics in low-income economies. Finally, the paper complements existing limited studies on Ethiopia by comparing the strength of shock propagation mechanisms using alternative data transformation techniques.

Details

Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1026-4116

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2019

Wondemhunegn Ezezew Melesse

The purpose of this paper is to compare business cycle fluctuations in Ethiopia under interest rate and money growth rules.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare business cycle fluctuations in Ethiopia under interest rate and money growth rules.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to achieve this objective, the author constructs a medium-scale open economy dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. The model features several nominal and real distortions including habit formation in consumption, price rigidity, deviation from purchasing power parity and imperfect capital mobility. The paper also distinguishes between liquidity-constrained and Ricardian households. The model parameters are calibrated for the Ethiopian economy based on data covering the period January 2000–April 2015.

Findings

The main result suggests that: the model economy with money growth rule is substantially less powerful or more muted for the amplification and transmission of exogenous shocks originating from government spending programs, monetary policy, technological progress and exchange rate movements. The responses of output to fiscal policy shocks are relatively stronger under autarky which appears to confirm the findings of Ilzetzki et al. (2013) who suggest bigger multipliers in self-sufficient, closed economies. With regard to positive productivity shock, however, the model with interest rate feedback rule generates a decline in output and an increase in inflation, which are at odds with conventional empirical regularities.

Research limitations/implications

The major implication is that a central bank regulating some measure of monetary stocks should not expect (fear) as much expansion (contraction) in output following currency devaluation (liquidity withdrawal) as a sister central bank that relies on an interest rate feedback rule. As emphasized by Mishra et al. (2010) the necessary conditions for stronger transmission of interest-rule-based monetary policy shocks are hardly existent in emerging and developing economies targeting monetary aggregates; hence the relatively weaker responses of output and inflation in the model economy with money growth rule. Monetary policy authorities need to be cautious when using DSGE models to analyze business cycle dynamics. Quite often, DSGE models tend to mimic the proverbial “crooked house” built to every man’s advise. Whenever additional modification is made to an existing baseline model, previously established regularities break down. For instance, this paper documented negative response of output to technology shock. Such contradictions are not uncommon. For example, Furlanetto (2006) and Ramayandi (2008) have also found similarly inconsistent responses to fiscal and productivity shocks, respectively.

Originality/value

Using DSGE models for research and teaching purposes is not common in developing economies. To the best of the author’s knowledge, only one other Ethiopian author did apply DSGE model to study business cycle fluctuation in Ethiopia albeit under the implausible assumption of perfect capital mobility and a central bank following interest rate rule. The contribution of this paper is that it departs from these two unrealistic assumptions by allowing international risk premium as a function of the net foreign asset position of the country and by applying money growth rule which closely mimics the behavior of central banks in low-income economies such as Ethiopia.

Details

African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-0705

Keywords

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