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The Stock of External Sovereign Debt: Can We Take the Data at ‘Face Value’?

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Author Info

  • Dias, Daniel A.

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Richmond, Christine

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Wright, Mark L. J.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

The stock of sovereign debt is typically measured at face value. Defined as the undiscounted sum of future principal repayments, face values are misleading when debts are issued with different contractual forms or maturities. In this paper, we construct alternative measures of the stock of external sovereign debt for 100 developing countries from 1979 through 2006 that correct for differences in contractual form and maturity. We show that our alternative measures: (1) paint a very different quantitative, and in some cases also qualitative, picture of the stock of developing country external sovereign debt; (2) often invert rankings of indebtedness across countries, which historically defined eligibility for debt forgiveness; (3) indicate that the empirical performance of the benchmark quantitative model of sovereign debt deteriorates by roughly 50% once model-consistent measures of debt are used; (4) show how the spread of aggregation clauses in debt contracts that award creditors voting power in proportion to the contractual face value may introduce inefficiencies into the process of restructuring sovereign debts; and (5) illustrate how countries have manipulated their debt issuance to meet fiscal targets written in terms of face values.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2014-5.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 09 May 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2014-05

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Keywords: Stocks; Sovereign debts;

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  1. Michael Tomz & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Do Countries Default in "Bad Times" ?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(2-3), pages 352-360, 04-05.
  2. Piga, Gustavo, 2001. "Do Governments Use Financial Derivatives Appropriately? Evidence from Sovereign Borrowers in Developed Economies," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 189-219, Summer.
  3. Cristina Arellano & Ananth Ramanarayanan, 2012. "Default and the Maturity Structure in Sovereign Bonds," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 187 - 232.
  4. Guido Sandleris & Horacio Sapriza & Filippo Taddei, 2009. "Indexed Sovereign Debt: An Applied Framework," Business School Working Papers 2009-01, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
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  8. Satyajit Chatterjee & Burcu Eyigungor, 2012. "Maturity, Indebtedness, and Default Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2674-99, October.
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  11. William Easterly, 1999. "When is fiscal adjustment an illusion?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 55-86, 04.
  12. Vivian Z. Yue, 2005. "Sovereign Default and Debt Renegotiation," 2005 Meeting Papers 138, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Mark Wright & Christine Richmond & Daniel Dias, 2013. "In for a Penny, In for a 100 Billion Pounds: Quantifying the Welfare Benefits from Debt Relief," 2013 Meeting Papers 646, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Mark Wright & Christine Richmond & Daniel Dias, 2012. "On The Stock of External Sovereign Debt," 2012 Meeting Papers 490, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. Zettelmeyer, Jeromin & Trebesch, Christoph & Gulati, Mitu, 2013. "The Greek debt restructuring: An autopsy," Munich Reprints in Economics 20662, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  16. Ran Bi, 2008. ""Beneficial" Delays in Debt Restructuring Negotiations," 2008 Meeting Papers 766, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Hatchondo, Juan Carlos & Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "Long-duration bonds and sovereign defaults," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 117-125, September.
  18. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "The Forgotten History of Domestic Debt," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 319-350, 05.
  19. Easterly, William, 2002. "How Did Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Become Heavily Indebted? Reviewing Two Decades of Debt Relief," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1677-1696, October.
  20. Grossman, Herschel I & Van Huyck, John B, 1988. "Sovereign Debt as a Contingent Claim: Excusable Default, Repudiation, and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1088-97, December.
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  22. Ran Bi, 2008. "Beneficial Delays in Debt Restructuring Negotiations," IMF Working Papers 08/38, International Monetary Fund.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Michael Tomz & Mark L. J. Wright, 2012. "Empirical research on sovereign debt and default," Working Paper Series WP-2012-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Mark Wright & Christine Richmond & Daniel Dias, 2013. "In for a Penny, In for a 100 Billion Pounds: Quantifying the Welfare Benefits from Debt Relief," 2013 Meeting Papers 646, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Rohan Pitchford & Mark L. J. Wright, 2013. "On the contribution of game theory to the study of sovereign debt and default," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 649-667, WINTER.
  4. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador, 2013. "Sovereign Debt: A Review," NBER Working Papers 19388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kim Oosterlinck, 2013. "Sovereign debt defaults: insights from history," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-714, WINTER.
  6. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: An Overview of the Literature and Some Empirics," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1006, OECD Publishing.

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