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Government Debt, Reputation and Creditors’ Protections: The Tale of San Giorgio

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  • Michele Fratianni

Abstract

San Giorgio (1407–1805) was a formal association aimed at protecting creditors’ rights and reducing the risk of debt repudiation by the Republic of Genoa. The behavior of this institution is broadly consistent with debt models that predict lending if lenders can impose big penalties on debtors, and models in which lenders can differentiate between excusable and inexcusable defaults. San Giorgio shareholders enjoyed low credit risk but also lower returns on capital than those prevailing on comparable foreign assets for which creditors’ protection mechanisms were lacking. The Republic’s quid pro quo was a low cost of financing. Differences in credit risk were an important explanation of differences in long-term interest rates across countries in 16th and 17th century Europe, a point not sufficiently emphasized by the literature. Copyright Oxford University Press Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

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  • Michele Fratianni, 2006. "Government Debt, Reputation and Creditors’ Protections: The Tale of San Giorgio," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 10(4), pages 487-506, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:10:y:2006:i:4:p:487-506 DOI: 10.1007/s10679-006-9006-7
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    Cited by:

    1. Michele FRATIANNI, 2007. "The Evolutionary Chain of International Financial Centers," Working Papers 303, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    2. Chilosi, David, 2014. "Risky Institutions: Political Regimes and the Cost of Public Borrowing in Early Modern Italy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(03), pages 887-915, September.
    3. Roberds, William & Velde, Francois R., 2014. "Early Public Banks," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2014-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    4. David Andolfatto & Aleksander Berentsen & Christopher Waller, 2015. "Monetary policy with asset-backed money," ECON - Working Papers 198, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. William N. Goetzmann, 2015. "Bubble Investing: Learning from History," NBER Working Papers 21693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2005. "Supersanctions and Sovereign Debt Repayment," NBER Working Papers 11472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc D., 2010. "Supersanctions and sovereign debt repayment," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 19-36, February.
    8. Andolfatto, David & Berentsen, Aleksander & Waller, Christopher, 2016. "Monetary policy with asset-backed money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 166-186.

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