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Who Saw Sovereign Debt Crises Coming?

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  • Sebastián Nieto Parra

Abstract

This paper studies sovereign debt crises during the period 1993-2006 through the prism of the primary sovereign bond market. Two conclusions emerge. First, investment banks price sovereign default risk well before crises occur and before investors detect default risk. Between three and one years prior to the onset of a crisis, sovereign default risk countries paid to investment banks on average 1.10 per cent of the amount issued, close to double the average paid by emerging countries overall in the same period (0.56 per cent). In contrast, the level of sovereign bond spreads prior to crises is on average only slightly higher than for emerging countries (385 vs. 319 basis points), suggesting that investment banks have an information advantage with respect to investors and are the only parties compensated for the risk of sovereign debt crises. Second, investment banks’ behaviour differs depending on the type of sovereign debt crisis. Before crises, investment banks charged on average a higher underwriting fee to countries presenting public finances difficulties than to other sovereign debt crisis countries. The robustness of these results is verified through panel data analysis. The results are puzzling in that they indicate that valuable, publicly available information is not tracked by investors to help improve allocation of their emerging market fixed income assets. Cet article a pour objectif d’analyser les crises de dette souveraine pendant la période 1993-2006 à partir du marché primaire souverain. Deux principales conclusions ressortent de cette étude. Premièrement, les banques d’investissement évaluent les risques de défaut bien avant les crises et avant même que les investisseurs ne les anticipent. Un à trois ans avant le début de la crise, les pays qui présentent un risque de défaut souverain élevé commencent à verser, en moyenne, 1.10 pourcent des montants qu’ils émettent aux banques d’investissement, soit près du double du montant moyen que versent l’ensemble des pays émergents pendant la période de l’étude (0.56 pourcent). En revanche, ils bénéficient, avant le début des crises, des primes de risque qui ne sont que légèrement supérieures à celles du reste des pays émergents (385 contre 319 points de base). Ce résultat suggère que les banques d’investissement ont un avantage d’information par rapport aux investisseurs et qu’elles sont les seules à tirer profit du risque de crise de dette souveraine. Deuxièmement, le comportement des banques d’investissement diffère selon le type de crise. Avant les crises, elles prennent une commission de souscription plus élevée pour les pays qui présentent des difficultés en matière de finances publiques que pour le reste des pays qui ont connu une crise de dette souveraine. La robustesse de ces résultats est vérifiée à partir d’une analyse de données de panel. Ces résultats sont étonnants en ce qu’ils indiquent que les investisseurs n’utilisent pas l’information utile et publique à leur disposition pour améliorer l’allocation de leurs actifs en titres émis par les pays émergents. Mots clés: Information,

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Development Centre Working Papers with number 274.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:274-en

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Keywords: information; primary bond market; sovereign debt crises; underwriter spread; commission de souscription; information; marché primaire souverain; crises de dette souveraine;

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Cited by:
  1. R. Anton Braun & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2012. "Making the case for a low intertemporal elasticity of substitution," Working Paper 2012-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  2. Marc Flandreau & Juan H. Flores & Norbert Gaillard & Sebastián Nieto-Parra, 2009. "The End of Gatekeeping: Underwriters and the Quality of Sovereign Bond Markets, 1815–2007," Working Papers CEB 10-017.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Marc Flandreau, Juan Flores, Norbert Gaillard, Sebasti‡n Nieto-Parra, 2011. "The Changing Role of Global Financial Brands in the Underwriting of Foreign Government Debt (1815-2010)," IHEID Working Papers 15-2011, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies, revised 05 Dec 2011.
  4. R. Anton Braun & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2012. "Why Prices Don't Respond Sooner to a Prospective Sovereign Debt Crisis," IMES Discussion Paper Series 12-E-02, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.

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