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The Welfare Economics of Debt Service

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  • Dani Rodrik

Abstract

This paper analyzes some of the implications of the dual transfer a debtor nation must undertake to service foreign debt: (a) an internal transfer from the private sector to the public sector; and (b) an external transfer from the domestic economy to foreign creditors. It shows that, under likely circumstances, a real depreciation of the home currency may complicate the internal transfer. As long as non-traded goods are a net source of revenue for the government, the depreciation called for by debt service deteriorates the public sector's terms of trade vis-a-vis the private sector and magnifies the requisite fiscal retrenchment. The paper discusses the role of trade policy (tariffs and export subsidies) in substituting for devaluation. Generating a private-sector surplus via interest-rate policy is shown to have similar costs on the government budget when the public sector has outstanding domestic debt.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2655.

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Date of creation: Jul 1988
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Publication status: published as "The Transfer Problem in Small Open Economies: Exchange Rate and Fiscal Policies for Debt Service," Ricerche Economiche, November 1990.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2655

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  1. Svensson, Lars E O & Razin, Assaf, 1983. "The Terms of Trade and the Current Account: The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 97-125, February.
  2. Sebastian Edwards, 1987. "Structural Adjustment Policies in Highly Indebted Countries," UCLA Economics Working Papers 453, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Jones, Ronald W. & Peter Neary, J., 1984. "The positive theory of international trade," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 1-62 Elsevier.
  4. Cohen, Daniel, 1988. "The Management of the Developing Countries' Debt: Guidelines and Applications to Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(1), pages 77-103, January.
  5. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
  6. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1987. "Trade and Exchange Rate Policies in Growth-Oriented Adjustment Programs," NBER Working Papers 2226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1985. "Policy and Performance Links between LDC Debtors and Industrial Nations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 303-368.
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Cited by:
  1. Faini, Riccardo & De Melo, Jaime & Senhadji-Semlali, Abdel & Stanton, Julie, 1989. "Macro performance under adjustment lending," Policy Research Working Paper Series 190, The World Bank.
  2. Devarajan, Shantayanan & de Melo, Jaime, 1990. "Membership in the CFA zone : Odyssean journey or Trojan horse?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 482, The World Bank.

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