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Do Countries Default in "Bad Times" ?

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  • Michael Tomz
  • Mark L. J. Wright

Abstract

This paper uses a new dataset to study the relationship between economic output and sovereign default for the period 1820--2004. We find a negative but surprisingly weak relationship between economic output in the borrowing country and default on loans from private foreign creditors. Throughout history, countries have indeed defaulted during bad times (when output was relatively low), but they have also suspended payments when the domestic economy was favorable, and they have maintained debt service in the face of adverse shocks. This constitutes a puzzle for standard theories of international debt, which predict a much tighter negative relationship as default provides partial insurance against declines in output. (JEL: F21, F34, F41) (c) 2007 by the European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 5 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (04-05)
Pages: 352-360

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:5:y:2007:i:2-3:p:352-360

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  1. Ugo Panizza & Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2006. "The Elusive Costs of Sovereign Defaults," IDB Publications 6713, Inter-American Development Bank.
  2. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S. & Ravn, M., 1997. "On Adjusting the H-P Filter for the Frequency of Observations," Discussion Paper 1997-50, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Yue, Vivian Z., 2010. "Sovereign default and debt renegotiation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 176-187, March.
  4. Aguiar, Mark & Gopinath, Gita, 2006. "Defaultable debt, interest rates and the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 64-83, June.
  5. Cooley, Thomas F. & Ohanian, Lee E., 1991. "The cyclical behavior of prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 25-60, August.
  6. Arellano, Cristina, 2008. "Default risk and income fluctuations in emerging economies," MPRA Paper 7867, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Claude Giorno & Pete Richardson & Deborah Roseveare & Paul van den Noord, 1995. "Estimating Potential Output, Output Gaps and Structural Budget Balances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 152, OECD Publishing.
  8. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1995. "Measuring Business Cycles Approximate Band-Pass Filters for Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 5022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1992. "International Evidence of the Historical Properties of Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 864-88, September.
  10. Rankin, Keith, 1992. "New Zealand's Gross National Product: 1859-1939," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 38(1), pages 49-69, March.
  11. World Bank, 2005. "World Development Indicators 2005," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 12426, October.
  12. Max-Stephan Schulze, 2000. "Patterns of growth and stagnation in the late nineteenth century Habsburg economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4370, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. Harding, Don & Pagan, Adrian, 2002. "Dissecting the cycle: a methodological investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 365-381, March.
  14. Greasley, David & Oxley, Les, 2000. "Measuring New Zealand's GDP 1865-1933: A Cointegration-Based Approach," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(3), pages 351-68, September.
  15. Mark L. J. Wright & Rohan Pitchford, 2008. "Restructuring the Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism," 2008 Meeting Papers 147, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. World Bank, 2006. "World Development Indicators 2006," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8151, October.
  17. Yousef, Tarik M, 2002. "Egypt's Growth Performance under Economic Liberalism: A Reassessment with New GDP Estimates, 1886-1945," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(4), pages 561-79, December.
  18. Don Harding & Adrian Pagan, 1999. "Dissecting the Cycle," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp1999n13, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  19. Schulze, Max-Stephan, 2000. "Patterns of growth and stagnation in the late nineteenth century Habsburg economy," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 311-340, December.
  20. repec:fth:baesse:0108 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Rohan Pitchford & Mark Wright, 2006. "Sovereign debt, default and renegotiation," 2006 Meeting Papers 331, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  22. Agustín Maravall & Ana del Río, 2001. "Time Aggregation and the Hodrick-Prescott Filter," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 0108, Banco de Espa�a.
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