US Economy

The US could see a 'significant' rise in public debt-to-GDP ratio: IMF fiscal affairs director

US fiscal stimulus to increase debt: IMF

Vitor Gaspar, the director of the International Monetary Fund's fiscal affairs department, shared his thoughts on the state of global fiscal policy with CNBC on Wednesday.

The IMF raised its outlook for the global economy this month, which would imply that many governments may have missed an opportunity for infrastructure spending and other fiscal activities that would have benefited from ultra-low interest rates.

"Clearly, we would have liked to have seen faster progress in this dimension," Gaspar said, but he noted that interest rates are expected to increase as business cycle prospects improve, so "the two forces offset each other."

Still, he said, the expected stimulus to come out of the United States under President Donald Trump will likely have a significant impact on the country's debt.

"Such a mildly pro-cyclical fiscal policy in the United States would be associated with a significant increase in the public debt-to-GDP ratio, which is something that we find in many countries," Gaspar told CNBC, explaining that the IMF's analysis assumed that U.S. fiscal stimulus would be primarily based on personal income and corporate income tax cuts.

For France, Gaspar said "the first priority" should be for the government to focus on public expenditure — to "rationalize" the public expenditure side. There's an opportunity for France to see "quite sizable gains in that dimension," he said.

In general, Gaspar pointed to the IMF's recently-published five principles for fiscal policy, which recommend fiscal policies be countercyclical, be prudent, be growth friendly, promote inclusion and be supported by a strong tax capacity.