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Debt Overhang or Debt Irrelevance?

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Author Info

  • Tito Cordella
  • Luca Antonio Ricci
  • Marta Ruiz-Arranz

Abstract

Do highly indebted countries suffer from a debt overhang? Can debt relief foster their growth rates? To answer these important questions, this article looks at how the debt-growth relation varies with indebtedness levels, as well as with the quality of policies and institutions, in a panel of developing countries. The main findings are that, in countries with good policies and institutions, there is evidence of debt overhang when the net present value of debt rises above 20–25 percent of GDP; however, debt becomes irrelevant above 70–80 percent. In countries with bad policies and institutions, thresholds appear to be lower, but the evidence of debt overhang is weaker and we cannot rule out that debt is always irrelevant. Indeed, in such countries, as well as in countries with high indebtedness levels, investment does not depend on debt levels. The analysis suggests that not all countries are likely to profit from debt relief, and thus that a one-size-fits-all debt relief approach might not be the most appropriate one.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal IMF Staff Papers.

Volume (Year): 57 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:57:y:2010:i:1:p:1-24

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Cited by:
  1. Salvatore Dell’Erba & Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza, 2013. "Debt Levels, Debt Composition, and Sovereign Spreads in Emerging and Advanced Economies," IHEID Working Papers 12-2013, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  2. Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2010. "Total public debt and growth in developing countries," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 44, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  3. Ugo Panizza & Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2012. "Public Debt and Economic Growth: Is There a Causal Effect?," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 65, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  4. Ugo Panizza & Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2013. "Public Debt and Economic Growth in Advanced Economies: A Survey," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 78, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  5. Knoll, Martin, 2013. "The heavily indebted poor countries and the multilateral debt relief initiative: A test case for the validity of the debt overhang hypothesis," Discussion Papers 2013/11, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  6. Islam, Iyanatul & Ahmed, Ishraq & Roy, Rathin & Ramos, Raquel, 2012. "Macroeconomic policy advice and the Article IV consultations a development perspective," ILO Working Papers 478371, International Labour Organization.
  7. Markus Eberhardt & Andrea F. Presbitero, 2013. "This Time They’re Different: Heterogeneity and Nonlinearity in the Relationship between Debt and Growth," Discussion Papers 2013/10, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  8. Samuel W. Malone, 2011. "Sovereign indebtedness, default, and gambling for redemption," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 331-354, April.
  9. Megersa, kelbesa, 2014. "The laffer curve and the debt-growth link in low-income Sub-Saharan African economies," MPRA Paper 54362, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Markus Eberhardt, 2013. "Nonlinearities in the Relationship between Debt and Growth: Evidence from Co-Summability Testing," Discussion Papers 2013/06, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).

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