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Why Are There Serial Defaulters? Evidence from Constitutions

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  • Emanuel Kohlscheen

Abstract

Presidential democracies were 4.9 times more likely than parliamentary democracies to default on external debts between 1976 and 2000. In this article I argue that the explanation for the serial defaults by a number of sovereign borrowers lies in their constitutions. Ceteris paribus, parliamentary democracies are less likely than presidential democracies to default on their liabilities because the confidence requirement creates a credible link between economic policies and the executive's political survival. This link tends to strengthen the repayment commitment when politicians are opportunistic. I show that this effect is large in the contemporary world even when the comparison is restricted to countries that are similar in terms of colonial origin, geography, and economic variables. Since a country's form of government is typically chosen at the time of independence and is highly persistent over time, constitutions can explain why debt policies in developing countries are related to individual histories.

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  • Emanuel Kohlscheen, 2007. "Why Are There Serial Defaulters? Evidence from Constitutions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 713-730.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:50:y:2007:p:713-730 DOI: 10.1086/519814
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    1. Sara Bertin & Steve Ohana & Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, 2016. "Revisiting the Link Between Political and Financial Crises in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 25(3), pages 323-366.
    2. Giordano, Raffaela & Tommasino, Pietro, 2011. "What determines debt intolerance? The role of political and monetary institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 471-484, September.
    3. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Martin Weder, 2015. "Fiscal Adjustments and the Probability of Sovereign Default," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 81-110, February.
    4. Karatas, B., 2014. "Financial crisis and monetary policy," Other publications TiSEM 41e463f0-e122-4379-8db5-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Enderlein, Henrik & Trebesch, Christoph & von Daniels, Laura, 2012. "Sovereign debt disputes: A database on government coerciveness during debt crises," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 250-266.
    6. repec:eee:quaeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:13-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Cuadra, Gabriel & Sapriza, Horacio, 2008. "Sovereign default, interest rates and political uncertainty in emerging markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 78-88.
    8. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2011. "Serial defaults, serial profits: Returns to sovereign lending in Habsburg Spain, 1566-1600," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-19, January.
    9. Christoph Trebesch & Michael G. Papaioannou & Udaibir S Das, 2012. "Sovereign Debt Restructurings 1950-2010; Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts," IMF Working Papers 12/203, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Emanuel Kohlscheen, 2010. "Domestic vs external sovereign debt servicing: an empirical analysis," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 93-103.
    11. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Karatas, Bilge, 2013. "Three Sisters: The Interlinkage between Sovereign Debt, Currency and Banking Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 9369, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Jens Hilscher & Yves Nosbusch, 2010. "Determinants of Sovereign Risk: Macroeconomic Fundamentals and the Pricing of Sovereign Debt," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 14(2), pages 235-262.
    13. Sottile, Pedro, 2013. "On the political determinants of sovereign risk: Evidence from a Markov-switching vector autoregressive model for Argentina," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 160-185.
    14. Kim Oosterlinck, 2013. "Sovereign debt defaults: insights from history," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-714, WINTER.
    15. repec:kap:ecopln:v:50:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10644-017-9211-8 is not listed on IDEAS

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