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Chronic sovereign debt crises in the Eurozone, 2010-2012

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  • Cristina Arellano
  • Juan Carlos Conesa
  • Timothy J. Kehoe

Abstract

Two years after the rescue package for Greece provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May 2010, sovereign debt crises continue to threaten a growing number of countries in the eurozone. We develop a theory for analyzing these crises based on the research of Cole and Kehoe (1996, 2000) and Conesa and Kehoe (2012). In this theory, the need to frequently sell large quantities of bonds leaves a country vulnerable to sovereign debt crisis. This vulnerability provides a strong incentive to the country’s government to run surpluses to pay down its debt to a level where a crisis is not possible. ; A deep and prolonged recession, like those currently afflicting many eurozone countries, creates a conflicting incentive, however, to “gamble for redemption”—to bet that the recession will soon end, to sell more bonds in order to smooth government spending, and, if indeed the economy recovers, to reduce debt. Under some circumstances, this policy is the best that a government can do for the citizens of its country, but it carries a risk: If the recession continues too long, the government either will have to stop increasing its debt or will have to default on its bonds. ; The theory suggests that policies that result in high interest rates on government bonds and high costs of default provide incentives for a government to reduce its debt and avoid sovereign default. On the other hand, policies that result in low interest rates and low costs of default provide incentives for a government to gamble for redemption. We conclude that policy interventions taken to date by the EU and the IMF—by lowering the cost of borrowing and reducing default penalties—have encouraged eurozone governments to gamble for redemption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Economic Policy Paper with number 12-4.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmep:12-4

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  1. David Benjamin & Mark L. J. Wright, 2009. "Recovery Before Redemption: A Theory Of Delays In Sovereign Debt Renegotiations," CAMA Working Papers 2009-15, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  2. Harold L. Cole & Timothy J. Kehoe, 1998. "Self-fulfilling debt crises," Staff Report 211, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. David Benjamin, 2008. "Recovery Before Redemption," 2008 Meeting Papers 531, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. David Benjamin & Mark L. J. Wright, 2009. "Recovery Before Redemption: A Theory Of Delays In Sovereign Debt Renegotiations," CAMA Working Papers 2009-15, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  5. Juan Carlos Conesa & Timothy J. Kehoe, 2012. "Gambling for redemption and self-fulfilling debt crises," Staff Report 465, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Cited by:
  1. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl & Joseph B. Steinberg, 2013. "Global Imbalances and Structural Change in the United States," NBER Working Papers 19339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gustavo Adler, 2012. "Intertwined Sovereign and Bank Solvencies in a Model of Self-Fulfilling Crisis," IMF Working Papers 12/178, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl & Joseph B. Steinberg, 2013. "What will happen when foreigners stop lending to the United States?," Economic Policy Paper 13-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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