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What Explains Sovereign Debt Litigation?

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  • Julian Schumacher
  • Christoph Trebesch
  • Henrik Enderlein

Abstract

We study the occurrence of holdout litigation in the context of sovereign defaults. The number of creditor lawsuits against foreign governments has strongly increased over the past decades, but there is a large variation across crisis events. Why are some defaults followed by a “run to the courthouse” and others not? What explains the general increase in lawsuits? We address these questions based on an economic model of litigation and a new dataset capturing the near-universe of cases filed against defaulting sovereigns. We find that creditors are more likely to litigate in large debt restructurings, when governments impose high losses (“haircuts”), and when the defaulting country is more vulnerable to litigation (open economies and those with a low legal capacity). We conclude that sovereign debt lawsuits can be predicted reasonably well with a simple framework from the law and economics literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Julian Schumacher & Christoph Trebesch & Henrik Enderlein, 2015. "What Explains Sovereign Debt Litigation?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5319, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5319
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    Cited by:

    1. Enderlein, Henrik & Schumacher, Julian & Trebesch, Christoph, 2018. "Sovereign Defaults in Court," CEPR Discussion Papers 12777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Chuck Fang & Julian Schumacher & Christoph Trebesch, 2021. "Restructuring Sovereign Bonds: Holdouts, Haircuts and the Effectiveness of CACs," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 69(1), pages 155-196, March.
    3. Kartik Anand & Prasanna Gai, 2019. "Pre-emptive sovereign debt restructuring and holdout litigation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 364-381.
    4. Elard, Ilaf, 2020. "Three-player sovereign debt negotiations," International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 217-240.
    5. Marco Committeri & Pietro Tommasino, 2018. "Managing sovereign debt restructurings in the euro zone. A note on old and current debates," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 451, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Schumacher, Julian & Trebesch, Christoph & Enderlein, Henrik, 2021. "Sovereign defaults in court," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sovereign debt; sovereign default; legal disputes; creditor lawsuits;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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