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Moral Hazard and Bail-Out in Fiscal Federations: Evidence for the German Länder

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  • Kirsten H. Heppke-Falk
  • Guntram B. Wolff

Abstract

We identify investor moral hazard in the German fiscal federation. Our identification strategy is based on a variable, which was used by the German Federal Constitutional Court as an indicator to determine eligibility of two German states (Länder) to a bail-out, the interest payments-to-revenue ratio. While risk premia measured in the German sub-national bond market react significantly to the relative debt level of a state (Land), we also find that a larger interest payments-to-revenue ratio counter-intuitively lowers risk premia significantly. Furthermore, with increasing values the risk premia decrease more strongly. This is evidence of investor moral hazard, because a larger indicator value increases the likelihood of receiving a bail-out payment. Our findings are robust to a variety of sample changes. In addition, we provide a case study of the recent Federal Constitutional Court ruling on the Land Berlin, which had filed for additional federal funds. The negative response of the court did not lead to a change in financial markets' bail-out expectations. In sum, our results indicate significant investor moral hazard in the sub-national German bond market. Copyright 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 61 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 425-446

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:61:y:2008:i:3:p:425-446

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Schuknecht, Ludger & von Hagen, Jürgen & Wolswijk, Guido, 2008. "Government risk premiums in the bond market: EMU and Canada," Working Paper Series 0879, European Central Bank.
  2. Peter Claeys & Raúl Ramos & Jordi Suriñach, 2008. "Fiscal sustainability across government tiers," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 139-163, July.
  3. Salvador Barrios & Diego Martínez, 2014. "Fiscal equalisation schemes and sub-central government borrowing," Working Papers 1401, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
  4. Dhritidyuti Bose & Rajeev Jain & Lakshmanan L, 2011. "Determinants of Primary Yield Spreads of States in India: An Econometric Analysis," Working Papers id:4370, eSocialSciences.
  5. E. Jenkner & Zhongjin Lu, 2014. "Sub-National Credit Risk and Sovereign Bailouts: Who Pays the Premium?," IMF Working Papers 14/20, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Peter Claeys & Raúl Ramos & Jordi Suriñach, 2007. "Fiscal sustainability across government tiers: an assessment of soft budget constraints," IREA Working Papers 200714, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Jul 2007.
  7. Van Hecke, Annelore, 2013. "Vertical debt spillovers in EMU countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 468-492.
  8. Sven Jari Stehn & Annalisa Fedelino, 2009. "Fiscal Incentive Effects of the German Equalization System," IMF Working Papers 09/124, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Mark Hallerberg & Guntram Wolff, 2008. "Fiscal institutions, fiscal policy and sovereign risk premia in EMU," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 379-396, September.
  10. Wolff, Guntram B, 2007. "Schuldenanstieg und Haftungsausschluss im deutschen Föderalstaat: Zur Rolle des Moral Hazard
    [Increasing debt and potential bail-out clauses in the German federation: on the role of moral hazard]
    ," MPRA Paper 11248, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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