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Optimal Sovereign Debt: An Analytical Approach

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  • Jean-Charles Rochet

Abstract

This paper develops a model of sovereign debt where governments are myopic. Instead of focusing on the incentives to repay, as in most of the theoretical literature on the topic (which assumes implicitly that governments have long-term objectives), I therefore consider that governments always repay when they can, but also borrow as much as possible. without paying attention to the burden of future repayments. The pattern of debt is then only determined by the willingness of international investors to lend to the country. I characterize the Rational Expectations Equilibria of the credit market. These equilibria behave like rational bubbles: international investors lend a lot because they anticipate that other investors will lend again in the future. Capital flows are procyclical: the government borrows a fixed proportion of its income until a sudden stop occurs, generating default and an economic crisis. I suggest possible remedies to the high volatility of public expenditures that is generated by such borrowing patterns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4477.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4477

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  1. Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2006. "Bubbles and Self-enforcing Debt," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000383, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003. "Debt intolerance," MPRA Paper 13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Kose, Ayhan & Prasad, Eswar & Rogoff, Kenneth & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2004. "Financial Globalization, Growth and Volatility in Developing Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 4772, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Kenneth Rogoff, 1999. "International Institutions for Reducing Global Financial Instability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 21-42, Fall.
  6. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Luis Fernando Mejía, 2004. "On the Empirics of Sudden Stops: The Relevance of Balance-Sheet Effects," Research Department Publications 4367, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Roberto Chang & Andres Velasco, 1999. "Liquidity crises in emerging markets: Theory and policy," Working Paper 99-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  8. Harold L. Cole & Timothy J. Kehoe, 1998. "Self-fulfilling debt crises," Staff Report 211, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 2088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sebastian Galiani & Mariano Tommasi & Daniel Heymann, 2002. "Missed Expectations: The Argentine Convertibility," Working Papers 55, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Nov 2003.
  12. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
  14. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  15. Aizenman, Joshua & Powell, Andrew, 1998. "The political economy of public savings and the role of capital mobility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 67-95, October.
  16. Luis Catão & Sandeep Kapur, 2004. "Missing Link," IMF Working Papers 04/51, International Monetary Fund.
  17. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Scholarly Articles 12491028, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Ugo Panizza & Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2006. "The Elusive Costs of Sovereign Defaults," IDB Publications 6713, Inter-American Development Bank.
  2. Ugo Panizza & Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2009. "The Economics and Law of Sovereign Debt and Default," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 651-98, September.
  3. Ugo Panizza & Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2010. "International Government Debt," Business School Working Papers 2010-03, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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