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Sovereign indebtedness, default, and gambling for redemption

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  • Samuel W. Malone

Abstract

Developing country politicians, faced with the spectre of losing office following a costly default, may be tempted to 'gamble for redemption' by instituting policies that increase the volatility of output growth, possibly at the expense of reducing average growth. We present a simple model of debt overhang that captures this intuition. Empirically, we demonstrate that sovereign defaults are significantly associated with an increased probability of job loss by political leaders: after controlling for other determinants, the quantitative effect of a default on the probability of job loss is comparable to a 3.5 standard deviation fall in economic growth. Cross country regressions reveal that, as predicted by our model, higher indebtedness is associated with higher monetary, fiscal, and public investment policy volatility and with policies that increase output volatility at the expense of growth. Copyright 2011 Oxford University Press 2010 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

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  • Samuel W. Malone, 2011. "Sovereign indebtedness, default, and gambling for redemption," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 331-354, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:63:y:2011:i:2:p:331-354
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea F Presbitero, 2012. "Total Public Debt and Growth in Developing Countries," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 24(4), pages 606-626, September.
    2. Fabrice Collard & Michel Habib & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2015. "Sovereign Debt Sustainability In Advanced Economies," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 381-420, June.
    3. Collard, Fabrice & Habib, Michel Antoine & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2016. "The Reluctant Defaulter: A Tale of High Government Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 11299, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Burke Paul J., 2012. "Economic Growth and Political Survival," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-43, March.
    5. Cáceres, Neila & Malone, Samuel W., 2015. "Optimal Weather Conditions, Economic Growth, and Political Transitions," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 16-30.
    6. Cáceres, Neila & Malone, Samuel W., 2013. "Forecasting leadership transitions around the world," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 575-591.

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