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Why do countries in financial distress strategically delay seeking help?


  • Tsoulouhas, Theofanis


The paper differs from current literature by providing a systematic analysis of the relationship between sovereign debt, financial distress and political career concerns via a novel game-theoretic model, in order to analyze the strategic behavior of governments in revealing financial distress and requesting a rescue program from international organizations. The analysis shows that, in equilibrium, a rent-seeking government will ”gamble for resurrection” by strategically delaying the revelation of financial distress through the creation of ”hidden debt,” hoping that things will improve in the future which will enable getting away with hiding the unfavorable news. This is so when the electorate only has short-term commitment power, if the government expects sufficient rents, provided a re-elected government adds to national output through experience, or international rescue organizations charge a relatively low interest rate, or the electorate discounts the future sufficiently. The analysis discusses incentive systems, such as differential interest rates when the government has been caught cheating, credit limiting and austerity, that can deter strategic delays, and a precommitment mechanism to get around time inconsistency.

Suggested Citation

  • Tsoulouhas, Theofanis, 2021. "Why do countries in financial distress strategically delay seeking help?," Journal of Government and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jogoec:v:2:y:2021:i:c:s2667319321000069
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jge.2021.100006

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    Cited by:

    1. Calomiris, Charles W. & Tsoulouhas, Theofanis, 2022. "Bailing out conflicted sovereigns," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 51(C).

    More about this item


    Asymmetric Information; Financial Distress; Sovereign Debt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt


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