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Debt Intolerance

  • Carmen M. Reinhart

    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Kenneth S. Rogoff

    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Miguel A. Savastano

    (International Monetary Fund)

This paper introduces the concept of "debt intolerance," which manifests itself in the extreme duress many emerging market economies experience at levels of indebtedness that would seem manageable by advanced country standards. The paper argues that "safe" external debt-to-GNP thresholds for debt-intolerant countries depend on the country's default and inflation history and may be as low as 15 percent in some cases. Debt intolerance is linked to the phenomenon of serial default that has plagued many countries over the past two centuries. Understanding and measuring debt intolerance is fundamental to assessing the problems of debt sustainability, debt restructuring, capital market integration, and the scope for international lending to ameliorate crises. The paper makes a first pass at quantifying debt intolerance, including delineating debtors' "clubs" and regions of vulnerability, based on a history of credit events for a large number of countries going back to the 1820s.

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Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 34 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-74

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:34:y:2003:i:2003-1:p:1-74
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  1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1999. "International Institutions for Reducing Global Financial Instability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 21-42, Fall.
  2. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:1:p:1-48 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  4. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Fiscal consequences for Mexico of adopting the dollar," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 597-625.
  5. Reinhart, Carmen & Reinhart, Vincent, 2003. "Twin fallacies about exchange rate policy: A note," MPRA Paper 13763, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2004. "The modern history of exchange rate arrangements: A reinterpretation," MPRA Paper 14070, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. John Williamson, 2002. "Is Brazil Next?," Policy Briefs PB02-07, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Velasco, Andres, 1996. "Fixed exchange rates: Credibility, flexibility and multiplicity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1023-1035, April.
  10. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Olivier Jeanne, 2003. "The Elusive Gains from International Financial Integration," NBER Working Papers 9684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "Sovereign Debt: Is to Forgive to Forget?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 43-50, March.
  12. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Default, Currency Crises, and Sovereign Credit Ratings," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(2), pages 151-170, August.
  13. Kose, Ayhan & Prasad, Eswar & Rogoff, Kenneth & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2006. "Financial Globalization: A Reappraisal," CEPR Discussion Papers 5842, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. M. Ayhan Kose & Kenneth Rogoff & Eswar Prasad & Shang-Jin Wei, 2003. "Effects of Financial Globalization on Developing Countries: Some Empirical Evidence," IMF Occasional Papers 220, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Giovannini, Alberto & de Melo, Martha, 1993. "Government Revenue from Financial Repression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 953-63, September.
  16. Peter Montiel & Samir Jahjah, 2003. "Exchange Rate Policy and Debt Crises in Emerging Economies," IMF Working Papers 03/60, International Monetary Fund.
  17. William R. Cline, 1995. "International Debt Reexamined," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 46.
  18. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Addicted to Dollars," CEMA Working Papers 594, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  19. Easterly, William R., 1989. "Fiscal adjustment and deficit financing during the debt crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 138, The World Bank.
  20. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Cleaning Up Third World Debt without Getting Taken to the Cleaners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 31-42, Winter.
  21. Morris Goldstein, 2003. "Debt Sustainability, Brazil, and the IMF," Working Paper Series WP03-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
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