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Past Event

The $13 Trillion Question: Managing the U.S. Government’s Debt

There is a lot of attention paid to the size of the federal debt, which amounts to more than $13 trillion. There is very little attention paid to how the U.S. Treasury borrows all that money – how much short-term, how-much long-term, how much at fixed rates, how much at rates that vary with inflation.

On November 10, the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings and the University of Chicago Booth School’s Initiative on Global Markets take a close look at how the US government does its borrowing, the subject of a new Brookings Institution Press book, “The $13 Trillion Question: Managing the U.S. Government’s Debt.”

Robin Greenwood of the Harvard Business School will argue that that Treasury should rely more on short-term and less on long-term borrowing than it has traditionally and that, particularly when the Federal Reserve pushes interest rates to zero, the Treasury and Fed should do more coordinating than they generally do. And John Cochrane of Stanford and University of Chicago will make the case for a radical change in the debt instruments the Treasury issues, suggesting that the Treasury rely heavily on debts with no fixed-maturity (perpetuals, in the jargon of the trade.)

The event will be held at the Booth School in Chicago, and will be webcast live.


Session I: The Optimal Maturity of Government Debt and Debt Management Conflicts between the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve

Robin Greenwood

George Gund Professor of Finance and Banking - Harvard Business School

Session II: A New Structure for U.S. Federal Debt

Session III: Panel Discussion


Seth B. Carpenter

Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets - Department of the Treasury

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