Sound Practice in Government Debt Management
Government debt management has a long tradition. More than three centuries ago, the Bank of England was managing government debt, and the origins of Sweden's National Debt Office go back to 1789.1 In recent years, there has been a move toward building the professionalism of government debt management, beginning with the establishment of the New Zealand Debt Management Office in 1988 and Ireland's National Treasury Management Agency in 1990. It is no accident that the countries that were the first to substantially upgrade their government debt management in the late 1980s and early 1990s were those with histories of fiscal problems, high ratios of public sector debt to gross domestic product (GDP), and a large proportion of foreign currency debt in their government debt portfolios.2 These same features are characteristic of many developing countries today. Concern over rising government indebtedness has been a factor behind debt management reforms in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand, and it helps explain why several other governments, including those of Jordan, Lebanon, and Peru, are considering extensive reforms in government debt management.
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