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Sovereign Defaults: Information, Investment and Credit

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  • Guido Sandleris

Abstract

Why would a sovereign government, immune from bankruptcy procedures and with few assets that could be seized in the event of a default, ever repay foreign creditors? And, correspondingly, why do foreign creditors lend to sovereigns? This paper finds general conditions under which, even in the absence of sanctions, lending to sovereigns can emerge in a single shot game. Furthermore, it shows that positive borrowing can be sustained both in pooling and separating equilibria. In this way, it makes clear that neither sanctions nor reputation considerations, the two classical explanations, are necessary to enforce repayment. Information revelation is the crucial mechanism for these results. The repayment/default decision is interpreted as a signal used by the government to communicate information to domestic and foreign agents about the fundamentals of the economy. Governments repay to affect agents' expectations about them. A default, through its effect on expectations about fundamentals, can generate a decline in foreign and domestic investment and a credit crunch in domestic credit markets. Governments repay to avoid these costs, but may default (in equilibrium) when hit by a negative shock.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in its series Business School Working Papers with number 2008-04.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:udt:wpbsdt:2008-04

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  1. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2000. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(2), pages 216-246, April.
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  8. Jose Vicente Martinez and Guido Sandleris, 2008. "Is it Punishment? Sovereign Defaults and the Decline in Trade," Business School Working Papers 2008-01, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  9. 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.
  10. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  11. Barry Eichengreen & Ashoka Mody, 1998. "What Explains Changing Spreads on Emerging-Market Debt: Fundamentals or Market Sentiment?," NBER Working Papers 6408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  13. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1998. "Models of Sovereign Debt: Partial versus General Reputations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 55-70, February.
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