Debt Maturity: Is Long-Term Debt Optimal?

2007_24_alfaro.pdf339 KB

Date Published:

Aug 1, 2006


We model and calibrate the arguments in favor and against short-term and long-term debt. These arguments broadly include: maturity premium, sustainability, and service smoothing. We use a dynamic equilibrium model with tax distortions and government outlays uncertainty, and model maturity as the fraction of debt that needs to be rolled over every period. In the model, the benefits of defaulting are tempered by higher future interest rates. We then calibrate our artificial economy and solve for the optimal debt maturity for Brazil as an example of a developing country and the U.S. as an example of a mature economy. We obtain that the calibrated costs from defaulting on long-term debt more than offset costs associated with short-term debt. Therefore, short-term debt implies higher welfare levels.


Harvard Business School Working Paper 06-005; NBER Working Paper 13119, August 2006

Last updated on 03/25/2015