IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Banks, Government Bonds, and Default: What do the Data Say?


  • Gennaioli, Nicola
  • Martin, Alberto
  • Rossi, Stefano


We analyze holdings of public bonds by over 20,000 banks in 191 countries, and the role of these bonds in 20 sovereign defaults over 1998-2012. Banks hold many public bonds (on average 9% of their assets), particularly in less financially-developed countries. During sovereign defaults, banks increase their exposure to public bonds, especially large banks and when expected bond returns are high. At the bank level, bondholdings correlate negatively with subsequent lending during sovereign defaults. This correlation is mostly due to bonds acquired in pre-default years. These findings shed light on alternative theories of the sovereign defaultbanking crisis nexus.

Suggested Citation

  • Gennaioli, Nicola & Martin, Alberto & Rossi, Stefano, 2014. "Banks, Government Bonds, and Default: What do the Data Say?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10044, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10044

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2012. "The Aggregate Demand for Treasury Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 233-267.
    2. Arteta, Carlos & Hale, Galina, 2008. "Sovereign debt crises and credit to the private sector," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 53-69, January.
    3. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Sorensen, Bent & Yesiltas, Sevcan, 2012. "Leverage across firms, banks, and countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 284-298.
    4. Fernando Broner & Alberto Martin & Jaume Ventura, 2010. "Sovereign Risk and Secondary Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1523-1555, September.
    5. Fabio Comelli, 2012. "Emerging Market Sovereign Bond Spreads; Estimation and Back-testing," IMF Working Papers 12/212, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Nicola Gennaioli & Alberto Martin & Stefano Rossi, 2014. "Sovereign Default, Domestic Banks, and Financial Institutions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 69(2), pages 819-866, April.
    7. Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh & Andrés Velasco (ed.), 2008. "Money, Crises, and Transition: Essays in Honor of Guillermo A. Calvo," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182661, January.
    8. Viral V. Acharya & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2013. "Sovereign Debt, Government Myopia, and the Financial Sector," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(6), pages 1526-1560.
    9. Robin Greenwood & Dimitri Vayanos, 2014. "Bond Supply and Excess Bond Returns," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(3), pages 663-713.
    10. Andrea Pescatori & Amadou N R Sy, 2007. "Are Debt Crises Adequately Defined?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(2), pages 306-337, June.
    11. Comelli, Fabio, 2012. "Emerging market sovereign bond spreads: Estimation and back-testing," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 598-625.
    12. Guido Sandleris, 2012. "The Costs of Sovereign Defaults:Theory and Empirical Evidence," Business School Working Papers 2012-02, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    13. Cristina Arellano, 2008. "Default Risk and Income Fluctuations in Emerging Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 690-712, June.
    14. Sturzenegger, Federico & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2008. "Haircuts: Estimating investor losses in sovereign debt restructurings, 1998-2005," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 780-805, September.
    15. Yusuf Soner Baskaya & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2016. "Sovereign Risk and Bank Lending: Evidence from 1999 Turkish Earthquake," NBER Working Papers 22335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Acharya, Viral V. & Steffen, Sascha, 2015. "The “greatest” carry trade ever? Understanding eurozone bank risks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 215-236.
    17. Opler, Tim & Pinkowitz, Lee & Stulz, Rene & Williamson, Rohan, 1999. "The determinants and implications of corporate cash holdings," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 3-46, April.
    18. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
    19. Claessens, Stijn & Laeven, Luc, 2004. "What Drives Bank Competition? Some International Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(3), pages 563-583, June.
    20. Juan J. Cruces & Christoph Trebesch, 2013. "Sovereign Defaults: The Price of Haircuts," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 85-117, July.
    21. Eduardo Levy-Yeyati & María Soledad Martínez Pería & Sergio L. Schmukler, 2010. "Depositor Behavior under Macroeconomic Risk: Evidence from Bank Runs in Emerging Economies," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 585-614, June.
    22. Michael Kumhof & Evan C Tanner, 2005. "Government Debt; A Key Role in Financial Intermediation," IMF Working Papers 05/57, International Monetary Fund.
    23. Filippo Brutti & Philip Ulrich Sauré, 2014. "Repatriation of Debt in the Euro Crisis: Evidence for the Secondary Market Theory," Working Papers 2014-03, Swiss National Bank.
    24. Hatice Balli & Bent Sørensen, 2013. "Interaction effects in econometrics," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 583-603, August.
    25. Holmstrom, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 1993. "Market Liquidity and Performance Monitoring," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 678-709, August.
    26. Fernando Broner & Jaume Ventura, 2011. "Globalization and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 49-82.
    27. Jochen R. Andritzky, 2012. "Government Bonds and their Investors; What Are the Facts and Do they Matter?," IMF Working Papers 12/158, International Monetary Fund.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    government bonds; sovereign default; sovereign risk;

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10044. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.