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Default, rescheduling and inflation : debt crisis in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries

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  • Comín, Francisco

Abstract

This article provides a historical overview of the factors leading up to debt crises and the default methods used by the governments to solve them, ranging from repudiation and restructuring to inflation tax and financial repression. The paper also analyses the Spanish governments’ graduation to responsible public debt management under the democracy and the last debt crisis starting in 2010. After analysing the evolution of the outstanding public debt, the budget deficits, the Spanish economy’s ability to borrow, the central government’s debt affordability and the profile of the sovereign debt the article concludes that the Spanish case confirms the main hypothesis of Reinhart and Rogoff (2009) about international debt crisis, regarding to: short term borrowing enhanced the risk of a debt crisis; insolvency problems arose when the governments were unwilling or unable to repay the debt; debt crisis took place after large capital inflows; most outright defaults ended up being partial defaults; sovereign debt level became unsustainable when it rose above 60-90 % of GDP; default trough inflation became commonplace when fiat money displaced coinage; financial repression was used as a subtle type of debt restructuring; defaults endangered the creditworthiness of Spanish Finance Ministry and forced disciplined fiscal policies

Suggested Citation

  • Comín, Francisco, 2012. "Default, rescheduling and inflation : debt crisis in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp12-06, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp12-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton University Press.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2012. "Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes since 1800," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 69-86, Summer.
    3. Carmen M. Reinhart & M. Belen Sbrancia1, 2015. "The liquidation of government debt," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 291-333.
    4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 215-268, November.
    5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    6. Lains, Pedro & Cardoso, José Luís, 2009. "Paying for the liberal state : the rise of public finance in nineteenth century Europe," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp09-03, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    7. Prados de la Escosura Leandro, 2003. "El progreso económico de España (1850-2000)," Books, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation, edition 1, number 201136, December.
    8. Nikolaus Wolf, 2012. "Crises and Policy Responses within the Political Trilemma: Europe, 1929-1936 and 2008-2011," Working Papers 0016, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public debt;

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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