Optimal Debt? On the Insurance Value of International Debt Flows to Developing Countries
According to reputation models of sovereign debt, the incentives to repay are proportional to the income insurance benefits provided by access to international markets. This paper, however, documents that private net lending to developing countries exhibits a procyclical or acyclical pattern, contradicting this premise. By contrast, official debt net flows exhibit a countercyclical patter. In addition, the paper shows that (both current and past) defaults are associated with lower net debt flows. The findings, which are robust to various additional controls, cast doubt on the reputation view of sovereign debt markets. At the same time, they suggest that reputation may account for the success of the (implicit) preferred creditor status enjoyed by multilateral lenders.
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