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Government Deficits and Interest Rates: A Keynesian View

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Contrary to the neoclassical loanable funds theory, historical bond yields show Keynes was right that “convictions” anchor long-term interest rates

We test the neoclassical loanable funds model which postulates that, ceteris paribus, government borrowing increases the long-term rate of interest. The empirical literature exploring such a connection remains largely mixed. We clarify the conflicting results by deploying an ARDL model to decompose the relationship in the United States into long and short-run effects across multiple measures of the government deficit and long-term interest rate. We find a tendency for changes in the deficit to increase long-term interest rates in the short run but the effect is reversed in the long run. We argue that these results are consistent with John Maynard Keynes’ view of the long-term rate as being heavily influenced by monetary policy, central bank credibility and market convention.