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The role of institutions in reputation models of sovereign debt


  • Cole, Harold L.
  • Kehoe, Patrick J.


A standard explanation for why sovereign governments repay their debts is that they must maintain a good reputation to easily borrow more. We show that the ability of reputation to support debt depends critically on the assumptions made about institutions. At one extreme, we assume that bankers can default on payments they owe to governments. At the other, we assume that bankers are committed to honoring contracts made with governments. We show that if bankers can default, then a government gets enduring benefits from maintaining a good relationship with bankers and its reputation can support a large amount of borrowing. If, however, bankers must honor their contracts, then a government gets only transient benefits from maintaining a good relationship and its reputation can support zero borrowing.
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  • Cole, Harold L. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1995. "The role of institutions in reputation models of sovereign debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 45-64, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:35:y:1995:i:1:p:45-64

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eaton, Jonathan & Fernandez, Raquel, 1995. "Sovereign debt," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 3, pages 2031-2077 Elsevier.
    2. Cole, Harold L & Dow, James & English, William B, 1995. "Default, Settlement, and Signalling: Lending Resumption in a Reputational Model of Sovereign Debt," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 365-385, May.
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    4. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-396, March.
    5. 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.
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    7. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-661, September.
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    9. 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.
    10. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
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    12. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
    13. Harold L. Cole & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1996. "Reputation Spillover Across Relationships with Enduring and Transient Beliefs: Reviving reputation Models of Debt," NBER Working Papers 5486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Grossman, Herschel I & Van Huyck, John B, 1988. "Sovereign Debt as a Contingent Claim: Excusable Default, Repudiation, and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1088-1097, December.
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