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Why are there Serial Defaulters? Evidence from Constitutions

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  • Kohlscheen, Emanuel

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

Abstract

Presidential democracies were 4.9 times more likely to default on external debts between 1976 and 2000 than parliamentary democracies. This paper argues that the explanation to the pattern of serial defaults among a number of sovereign borrowers lies in their constitutions. Ceteris paribus, parliamentary democracies are less likely to default on their liabilities as the confidence requirement creates a credible link between economic policies and the political survival of the executive. This link tends to strengthen the repayment commitment when politicians are opportunistic. I show that this effect is large and statistically significant in the contemporary world even when comparison is restricted to countries that are twins in terms of colonial origin, geography and economic variables. Moreover, the result persists if OECD or Latin American democracies are excluded from the sample. Since the form of government of a country is typically chosen at the time of independence and highly persistent over time, constitutions can explain why debt policies in developing countries are related to individual histories

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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 755.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:755

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  1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Do constitutions cause large governments? Quasi-experimental evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 908-918, May.
  4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2004. "Serial Default and the "Paradox" of Rich-to-Poor Capital Flows," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 53-58, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Kohlscheen, E, 2009. "Domestic vs. External Sovereign Debt Servicing : An Empirical Analysis," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 904, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Kim Oosterlinck, 2013. "Sovereign debt defaults: insights from history," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-714, WINTER.
  3. Cuadra, Gabriel & Sapriza, Horacio, 2008. "Sovereign default, interest rates and political uncertainty in emerging markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 78-88, September.
  4. Sottile, Pedro, 2013. "On the political determinants of sovereign risk: Evidence from a Markov-switching vector autoregressive model for Argentina," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 160-185.
  5. Giordano, Raffaela & Tommasino, Pietro, 2011. "What determines debt intolerance? The role of political and monetary institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 471-484, September.
  6. Mauricio Drelichman & Joachim Voth, 2011. "Serial defaults, serial profits: Returns to sovereign lending in Habsburg Spain, 1566-1600," Economics Working Papers 1262, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Jens Hilscher & Yves Nosbusch, 2007. "Determinants of Sovereign Risk: Macroeconomic Fundamentals and the Pricing of Sovereign Debt," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 114, Money Macro and Finance Research Group, revised 24 Apr 2007.
  8. Christoph Trebesch & Michael G Papaioannou & Udaibir S. Das, 2012. "Sovereign Debt Restructurings 1950 - 2010: Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts," IMF Working Papers 12/203, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Enderlein, Henrik & Trebesch, Christoph & von Daniels, Laura, 2012. "Sovereign debt disputes: A database on government coerciveness during debt crises," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 250-266.
  10. Schaltegger, Christoph & Weder, Martin, 2013. "Fiscal Adjustments and the Probability of Sovereign Default," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79979, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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