Monetary base and federal government debt in the long-run: A non-linear analysis


Government bonds are usually traded between the financial institutions and the Fed during the open market operations. These operations impact the bank reserves, subsequently influencing the monetary base. The monetary base and government bonds may portray a common trend and government debt could potentially bind the central bank to debt monetization. This paper, using monthly data on federal government debt and the monetary base from 1947:1 to 2018:10, investigates the presence of a long-run equilibrium relationship between the two variables and as to how the long-run equilibrium relationship vary in the short-run. Threshold cointegration tests find evidence of a long-run equilibrium relationship. Estimates of the threshold vector error-correction model find statistically significant evidence of contraction in the monetary base growth in the short-run in regime 1. In regime 2, the growth in the monetary base does not adjust to accommodate faster government debt growth. These estimates find no evidence of debt monetization or otherwise in either of the regimes in the United States. The Fed, by reducing the monetary base, perhaps focuses more on the inflation target. The findings also suggest a potential scenario where the Fed and the fiscal authority are not conjoined with each other in their operations.



Document Type





E42, E58, E61, E63, federal government debt, monetary base, threshold cointegration, threshold VECM

Publication Date


Journal Title

Bulletin of Economic Research