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Risk profiles for re-profiling the sovereign debt of crisis countries


  • Andrea Consiglio
  • Stavros Zenios


Purpose - – This paper aims to use a risk management approach for re-profiling of sovereign debt. It develops profiles that trade off expected cost of financing alternative debt structures against their risk. The risk profiles are particularly informative for countries facing sovereign debt crisis, as they allow us to identify, with high probability, debt unsustainability. Risk profiles for two eurozone countries with excessive debt, Cyprus and Italy, were developed. In addition, risk profiles were developed for a proposal to impose debt sanctions in the Ukrainian crisis and it was shown that the financial impact could be substantial. Design/methodology/approach - – Using scenario analysis, a risk measure of the sovereign’s debt – Conditional Debt-at-Risk – was developed, and an optimization model was then used to trade off expected cost of debt financing against the Conditional Debt-at-Risk. The model is applied to three diverse settings from current crises. Findings - – The methodology traces informative risk profiles to identify sustainable debt structures. Interesting, although tentative, conclusions are drawn for the countries where the methodology was applied. Cyprus’s debt sustainability hinges on current International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections about gross domestic product growth and small deviations can push debt into unsustainable territory. For Italy, our analysis provides evidence of debt unsustainability. Common assumption of debt by eurozone member states could restore sustainability for Italy. Finally, it is shown how a proposal to impose debt sanctions against Russia for the Ukrainian crisis could have significant financial impact for Ukraine. Research limitations/implications - – Additional work is needed to calibrate the simulation models for each country separately. Nevertheless, the direction of the results is such that more careful calibration will most likely not alter the conclusions but make them stronger instead. Practical implications - – The results provide significant insights for the management of sovereign debt for Cyprus and Italy. They also show the significant positive impact on Ukrainian public finances from debt sanctions. However, the most important practical implication is to show how the proposed methodology provided a decision support tool for restructuring and rescheduling sovereign debt for crisis countries. Social implications - – There is widespread acceptance that debt restructuring has been too little and too late in recent crises failing to re-establish market access in a durable way. How to develop risk profiles for alternative debt structures has been illustrated. Debt profiles that are unsustainable can be identified, with high probability, and alternative structures proposed that restore sustainability. The methodology proposed in this paper is providing a useful tool of analysis. The topic of debt relief is currently debated widely at policy circles by the IMF and the United Nations, and the analysis of this paper provides some insightful input to the debate. Originality/value - – The use of scenario analysis for sovereign debt modeling and the use of an optimization model developed by the authors in previous research provide empirical analysis for three current problems in sovereign debt management. Useful insights are obtained for three important real-world cases for Cyprus, Italy and Ukraine.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Consiglio & Stavros Zenios, 2015. "Risk profiles for re-profiling the sovereign debt of crisis countries," Journal of Risk Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 16(1), pages 2-26, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:jrfpps:v:16:y:2015:i:1:p:2-26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2015. "Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 2(4), pages 5-17, June.
    2. Stavros A. Zenios, 2013. "The Cyprus Debt: Perfect Crisis and a Way Forward," Cyprus Economic Policy Review, University of Cyprus, Economics Research Centre, vol. 7(1), pages 3-45, June.
    3. Balibek, Emre & Köksalan, Murat, 2010. "A multi-objective multi-period stochastic programming model for public debt management," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 205(1), pages 205-217, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Jürgen von Hagen & Jean Pisani-Ferry & André Sapir & Francois Gianviti & Anne O. Krueger, . "A European mechanism for sovereign debt crisis resolution: a proposal," Blueprints, Bruegel, number 446.
    6. Jeromin Zettelmeyer & Christoph Trebesch & Mitu Gulati, 2013. "The Greek debt restructuring: an autopsy," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 28(75), pages 513-563, July.
    7. Serkan Arslanalp & Peter Blair Henry, 2005. "Is Debt Relief Efficient?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 1017-1051, April.
    8. David Bolder & Tiago Rubin, 2007. "Optimization in a Simulation Setting: Use of Function Approximation in Debt Strategy Analysis," Staff Working Papers 07-14, Bank of Canada.
    9. Jeromin Zettelmeyer & Christoph Trebesch & Mitu Gulati, 2013. "The Greek Debt Restructuring: An Autopsy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4333, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Philippe Artzner & Freddy Delbaen & Jean‐Marc Eber & David Heath, 1999. "Coherent Measures of Risk," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 203-228, July.
    11. Zenios, Stavros A., 2014. "Fairness and Reflexivity in the Cyprus Bail-In," Working Papers 14-04, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
    12. Massimo Bernaschi & Maya Briani & Marco Papi & Davide Vergni, 2007. "Scenario-generation methods for an optimal public debt strategy," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 217-229.
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    Cited by:

    1. Consiglio Andrea & Zenios Stavros A., 2015. "Risk Management Optimization for Sovereign Debt Restructuring," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 181-213, December.


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