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Overcoming the Original Sin: gains from local currency external debt

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  • Ricardo Sabbadini

Abstract

Is it better for emerging countries to issue external debt denominated in local (LC) or foreign currency (FC)? An economy issuing LC debt can avoid an explicit and costly default by inflating away its debt. However, in the hands of a discretionary policymaker, such tool might lead to excessive inflation and negative consequences for welfare. To investigate this question, I develop a quantitative model of sovereign default extended to incorporate real exchange rates and inflation. I find that an economy issuing LC debt defaults less often, sustains slightly lower debt levels, and presents positive average inflation. The net effect is a modest welfare loss when compared to issuing debt in FC. However, if monetary policy is credible, the welfare change is positive, but also of limited size. In this case, the real exchange rate serves as a buffer to accommodate negative output shocks and to prevent defaults

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  • Ricardo Sabbadini, 2018. "Overcoming the Original Sin: gains from local currency external debt," Working Papers Series 484, Central Bank of Brazil, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:bcb:wpaper:484
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    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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