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Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises

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  • Atif Mian
  • Amir Sufi
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Countries become more politically polarized and fractionalized following financial crises, reducing the likelihood of major financial reforms precisely when they might have especially large benefits. The evidence from a large sample of countries provides strong support for the hypotheses that following a financial crisis, voters become more ideologically extreme and ruling coalitions become weaker, independently of whether they were initially in power. The evidence that increased polarization and weaker governments reduce the chances of financial reform and that financial crises lead to legislative gridlock and anemic reform is less clear-cut. The US debt overhang resolution is discussed as an illustration.

Suggested Citation

  • Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-28, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:1-28
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.6.2.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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