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Historical Research on International Lending and Debt

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  • Barry Eichengreen

Abstract

The parallels between debt crises past and present have attracted a large number of social scientists to the history of foreign lending and default. In this article, I describe the findings of the recent literature on the subject. The questions posed have obvious relevance to the current policy debate over the debt of less-developed countries. What features of international capital markets have long rendered them vulnerable to generalized crisis? What events tend to spawn debt-servicing difficulties and to provoke default? What have been the consequences of default for lenders and borrowers? What approaches historically have proven most effective at clearing away the residue of debt crises? I concentrate on 20th century experience: on the lending of the 1920s, on the debt crisis of the 1930s, and on the recovery of capital markets after World War II.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen, 1991. "Historical Research on International Lending and Debt," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 149-169, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:5:y:1991:i:2:p:149-69
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.5.2.149
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.5.2.149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fishlow, Albert, 1985. "Lessons from the past: capital markets during the 19th century and the interwar period," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 383-439, July.
    2. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1988. "International resource flows and construction movements in the atlantic economy: the kuznets cycle in Italy, 1861–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 605-637, September.
    3. Sule Ozler, 1988. "Have Commerical Banks Ignored History," UCLA Economics Working Papers 498, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Marcelo de Paiva Abreu, 1983. "Argentina and Brazil during the 1930's: the impact of British and American international economic policies," Textos para discussão 57, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    5. Eichengreen, Barry & Portes, Richard, 1986. "Debt and default in the 1930s : Causes and consequences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 599-640, June.
    6. Fishlow, Albert, 1987. "Lessons of the 1890s for the 1980s," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1g7324hr, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    7. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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