Effect of an income shock on subnational debt: Micro evidence from Mexico!

In lots of emerging economies, local governments depend largely on transfers in the central government to satisfy an increasing interest in public services and infrastructure and to handle adverse occasions. Use of credit markets could alleviate their financial restrictions. However, their borrowing capacity is restricted by fiscal rules and financial sector rules that aim to prevent overborrowing. Within this context, it’s uncertain that extent subnational governments use debt to smooth earnings fluctuations intertemporally.

Inside a new paper, I study the way a shock to federal transfers affects municipal debt in Mexico. This type of shock may have different effects around the supply and demand of credit. Around the demand side, an adverse effect will arise if there’s a substitution between grants and debt. This really is expected from governments that aren’t borrowing restricted. Around the supply side, there must be an optimistic effect considering that present and future grants may be used to collateralize debt. This effect is anticipated one of the more collateral restricted governments. It might raise concerns if more transfers soften financial constraints and this can lead to overborrowing (see, e.g., Velasco 2000 Rodden 2002). Figure 1, panel a, implies that the fraction of in financial trouble municipalities decreases using the per person degree of federal transfers, that is an indication of a substitution backward and forward. Depending on being in financial trouble, panel b shows no obvious relationship between your per person amounts of municipal debt and transfers.

Figure 1: Municipal debt with banking institutions by degree of federal transfers

Bar and line dual charts showing Figure 1: Municipal debt with banking institutions by degree of federal transfers

Note: The horizontal axis shows .1-logarithmic-unit bins from the average federal transfers. The grey bars (left axes) show the amount of municipalities in every bin. The dots (right axes) represent the typical fraction of municipalities holding debt (panel a) and also the logarithm from the average amount of debt (panel b). Values have been in December 2010 Mexican pesos and therefore are normalized by population. The information cover from August 2009 to December 2016 and therefore are obtained from the R04 C commercial credit history (National Banking and Securities Commission).

Because the determinants of local revenue and financing needs might be correlated, I adopt an empirical strategy like this in Gordon (2004) to supply causal evidence. States allocate federal grants to municipal governments using distribution formulae that generally rely on population. Following a discharge of census data, municipalities having a greater intercensal population growth inside a condition start getting a greater share of federal revenues. This update within the distribution coefficients is really a purpose of lengthy-term, discrete alterations in the state population data. Importantly, it’s imperfectly correlated using the determinants of local financing needs for the short term, that ought to change continuously with current alterations in population. Hence, the revenue shock is offered through the development in population between your 2010 census and also the 2005 intercensal count. The aim would be to compare the publish-census connection between municipalities that, inside a condition, experienced everywhere population growth previously quinquennium.

First, I make sure the census shock results in a persistent rise in federal gets in municipalities with greater population growth in accordance with individuals experiencing lower growth. Carrying out a 10% rise in population between 2005 and 2010, transfers increase by 3% more over 2011-2012 in accordance with 2010 which is a lengthy-lasting effect. Because the census shock doesn’t have impact on other causes of municipal revenue, for example condition transfers or taxes, federal transfers would be the primary funnel mediating your debt response. For that analysis on municipal debt, I take a look at its monthly stock per bank (bond issuances are rare), aggregated from loan-level supervisory data. I’ve found that the 10% population shock reduces the prospect of getting debt by .2 p.p. (2.3% of town-bank pairs have credit relationships). This negative effect is temporary, lasting for 2 years for the most part. Depending on being in financial trouble, the shock doesn’t have impact on debt volume.

Additionally, I check out the role of local governments’ creditworthiness within the debt response. Inadequate own revenues and volatile and unpredictable intergovernmental transfers erode creditworthiness (Hanniman 2000). Thus, I personally use a higher ratio of gets in own-source revenue like a proxy for low creditworthiness. I’ve found the shock impact on the prospect of being in financial trouble is more powerful for that governments which were less transfer dependent prior to the shock. For governments with lower financial autonomy, the shock has no effect on their possibility of being in financial trouble. It’s some positive impact on loan volume, in line with a loosening of collateral constraints, but it’s generally minor to boost concerns about overborrowing.

Political factors may also modify the reaction to the shock, particularly in this setting where a federally-owned development bank may be the primary loan provider. However, I’ve found no differential results of the shock on the prospect of being in financial trouble once the loan provider is public, not really within the closeness of local elections or once the municipal mayor is aligned using the presidential party.

Finally, to accomplish the knowledge of the outcome from the shock on municipal budgets, I take a look at municipal expenses. For any 10% rise in population, primary expenses increase by 2%. Although the rise in grants is permanent, what increases is brief-term, current spending instead of purchase of capital goods. This might reflect either myopic spending decisions or the shock isn’t regarded as permanent because of the volatile nature of grants.


For local governments within an emerging country, this research implies that just the couple of with increased tax collection capacity can substitute federal transfers for bank debt. Because they are considered more creditworthy, they are able to access credit markets when grants are low and, therefore, can also reduce debt during good occasions. One implication for decentralization policy is the fact that diversifying the revenue base of local governments will boost their use of credit markets and, hence, remarkable ability to smooth earnings shocks. For that more transfer-dependent governments, the lack of ability to get in financial trouble reinforces such dependency and reduces their financial autonomy even more. The outcomes don’t provide proof of greater transfers resulting in excessive indebtedness. This really is documented for any period before the strengthening from the prudential rules for subnational financing. However, financial sector rules for subnational lending were already operating within no-bailout commitment from the central government. This means that the market-based borrowing framework can ensure financial discipline.

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