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Debt Sustainability and the Terms of Official Support

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  • Corsetti, Giancarlo
  • Erce, Aitor
  • Uy, Timothy

Abstract

We study theoretically and quantitatively how official lending regimes affect a government's decision to raise saving as opposed to defaulting, and its implication for sovereign bond pricing by investors. We reconsider debt sustainability in the face of both output and rollover risk under two types of institutional bailouts: one based on long-maturity, low-spread loans similar to the ones offered by the euro area official lenders; the other, on shorter maturity and high-spread loans, close to the International Monetary Fund standards. We show that official lending regimes raise the stock of safe debt and facilitate consumption smoothing through debt reduction. However, to the extent that bailouts translates into higher future debt stocks and countercyclical deficits in persistent recessions, they also have countervailing effects on sustainability. As a result, the effect of official loans is nonlinear in their size. As the threshold for safe debt rises, the maximum debt level the country finds it optimal to sustain when markets price rollover risk falls. This result unveils a fundamental trade-off in the provision of official loans, in turn rooted in a basic form of moral hazard. Quantitatively, the model is able to replicate Portuguese debt and spread dynamics in the years of the bailout after 2011. We show that, depending on the composition of debt by maturity and official lending, sustainable debt levels can vary between 50% of GDP and 180% of GDP depending on the state of the economy and the conditions for market access. Longer maturities have a stronger effect on sustainability than lower spreads.

Suggested Citation

  • Corsetti, Giancarlo & Erce, Aitor & Uy, Timothy, 2018. "Debt Sustainability and the Terms of Official Support," CEPR Discussion Papers 13292, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13292
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    Cited by:

    1. Giancarlo Corsetti & Aitor Erce & Timothy Uy, 2020. "Official sector lending during the euro area crisis," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 667-705, July.
    2. Christophe Destais & Frederik Eidam & Friedrich Heinemann, 2019. "The design of a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism for the euro area: Choices and trade-offs," CEPII Policy Brief 2019-25, CEPII research center.
    3. Giancarlo Corsetti & Aitor Erce & Timothy Uy, 0. "Official sector lending during the euro area crisis," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-39.
    4. Meyer, Josefin & Reinhart, Carmen M. & Trebesch, Christoph, 2019. "Sovereign Bonds since Waterloo," Working Paper Series rwp19-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Alloza, Mario & Andrés, Javier & Pérez, Javier J. & Rojas, Juan A., 2020. "Implicit public debt thresholds: An operational proposal," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1408-1424.
    6. Silvia Marchesi & Tania Masi, 2019. "Sovereign risk after sovereign restructuring. Private and official default," Working Papers 423, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2019.
    7. Silvia Marchesi & Tania Masi, 2020. "The price of haircuts: private and official default," Development Working Papers 460, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 06 Feb 2020.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bailouts; Debt maturities; default; Rollover Risk; Sovereign debt; Spread;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F45 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Macroeconomic Issues of Monetary Unions
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management

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