Public Debt Threshold in the Republic of North Macedonia
Research question: Is there a non-linear relationship between public debt and economic growth in North Macedonia, in the form of an inverted U-shape? Motivation: Government consumption plays an important role in the stability of the national economy, especially in periods of economic crisis. However, a rapidly growing public debt is a concerning issue nowadays, since it might jeopardize economic growth perspectives. Economic theory suggests that public debt has non-linear impact on economic growth in the form of an inverted U-shape. In other words, it is believed that after a certain threshold, the public debt will have deleterious impact on economic growth. Idea: Given that such threshold varies significantly across countries, the aim of this paper is to calculate the turning point of the public debt impact in the Republic of North Macedonia. Tools: For this purpose, we use non-linear multiple regression model for the real GDP growth rate as a dependent variable, general government public debt-to-GDP ratio (in nominal and squared terms) as a key independent variable, as well as several other controlling variables. Since theory also suggests reverse causality between economic growth and public debt, we use two different estimation techniques (Ordinary Least Squares and Generalized Method of Moments) to deal with potential endogeneity, and to cross-validate the results. Data: In this regard, we use annual data for the period 1998 – 2019, for 14 variables in total, obtained from several different data sources. Findings: Our results show that general government debt in the Republic of North Macedonia positively affects economic growth until it reaches around 30% of GDP, whereas further indebtedness after that turning point will most likely have a negative impact. Contribution: Given that current debt level is far above the estimated turning point, the need of urgent fiscal consolidation inevitably arises. This is especially important in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which imposed the need for strong government intervention and pointed out the importance of the fiscal space for such matter.
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