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Recent episodes of sovereign debt restructurings. A case-study approach

Listed author(s):
  • Javier Díaz-Cassou


    (Banco de España)

  • Aitor Erce-Domínguez


    (Banco de España)

  • Juan J. Vázquez-Zamora


    (Banco de España)

Sovereign debt restructurings do constitute a recurrent phenomenon in emerging and developing economies. Consequently, the international community has repeatedly explored options to increase the predictability and orderliness of debt workouts, of which the debate on the Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism (SDRM) proposed by the IMF in 2002 is the most recent example. Eventually, however, the most ambitious reform proposals have been systematically abandoned, thereby consolidating debt restructurings as market-led case-by-case processes. This paper reviews nine recent sovereign debt restructurings: Argentina (2001-2005), Belize (2006-2007), the Dominican Republic (2004-2005), Ecuador (1999-2000), Pakistan (1998-2001), the Russian Federation (1998-2001), Serbia (2000-2004), Ukraine (1998-2000) and Uruguay (2004). Our case study analysis reveals the lack of a single model for sovereign debt restructurings. Indeed, we find significant variations in the roots of the crises, the size of the losses undergone by investors, the speed at which an agreement was reached with creditors, the proportion of creditors accepting the terms of that agreement, or the time needed to restore access to international financial markets. There also appears to be a lack of consistency in the role played by the IMF in the various crises. This is partly due to the lack of a policy specifically designed to deal with sovereign debt restructurings in the IMF's toolkit, which has provided the IMF with flexibility to adapt to each crisis on a case-by-case basis. However, it may have exacerbated the uncertainty that tends to characterize such disruptive episodes. This paper constitutes the basis of a broader effort to identify possible options for the IMF to endow itself with a policy to streamline and systematize its role during sovereign debt restructurings.

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Paper provided by Banco de España & Occasional Papers Homepage in its series Occasional Papers with number 0804.

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Length: 82 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Handle: RePEc:bde:opaper:0804
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  1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
  2. Barry Eichengreen and Richard Portes., 1989. "Dealing with Debt: The 1930s and the 1980s," Economics Working Papers 89-104, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Niko Gobbin & Bruno Merlevede, 2000. "The Russian Crisis: A Debt Perspective," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 141-163.
  4. Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2007. "Creditors' Losses Versus Debt Relief: Results from a Decade of Sovereign Debt Crises," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(2-3), pages 343-351, 04-05.
  5. Javier Díaz-Cassou & Aitor Erce-Domínguez & Juan J. Vázquez-Zamora, 2008. "The role of the IMF in recent sovereign debt restructurings: Implications for the policy of lending into arrears," Occasional Papers 0805, Banco de España;Occasional Papers Homepage.
  6. Bjoern Rother & Ivetta Hakobyan & Monica B de Bolle, 2006. "The Level and Composition of Public Sector Debt in Emerging Market Crises," IMF Working Papers 06/186, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Abbigail J. Chiodo & Michael T. Owyang, 2002. "A case study of a currency crisis: the Russian default of 1998," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 7-18.
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