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What explains the surge in euro area sovereign spreads during the financial crisis of 2007-09?

  • Attinasi, Maria-Grazia
  • Checherita-Westphal, Cristina
  • Nickel, Christiane

This paper uses a dynamic panel approach to explain the determinants of widening sovereign bond yield spreads vis-à-vis Germany in selected euro area countries during the period end-July 2007 to end-March 2009, when the financial turmoil developed into a full-blown financial and economic crisis. Emphasis is given to the role of fiscal fundamentals and government announcements of substantial bank rescue packages. The paper finds that higher expected budget deficits and/or higher government debt ratios relative to Germany contributed to higher government bond yield spreads in the euro area during the analysed period. More importantly, the announcements of bank rescue packages have led to a re-assessment, from the part of investors, of sovereign credit risk, first and foremost through a transfer of risk from the private financial sector to the government. JEL Classification: E62, E43, G12

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1131.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20091131
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  1. Salvador Barrios & Per Iversen & Magdalena Lewandowska & Ralph Setzer, 2009. "Determinants of intra-euro area government bond spreads during the financial crisis," European Economy - Economic Papers 388, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  2. Alois Geyer & Stephan Kossmeier & Stefan Pichler, 2004. "Measuring Systematic Risk in EMU Government Yield Spreads," Review of Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 171-197.
  3. Alessandro Beber & Michael W. Brandt & Kenneth A. Kavajecz, 2006. "Flight-to-Quality or Flight-to-Liquidity? Evidence From the Euro-Area Bond Market," NBER Working Papers 12376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thomas Laubach, 2003. "New evidence on the interest rate effects of budget deficits and debt," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Riccardo Faini, 2006. "Fiscal policy and interest rates in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(47), pages 443-489, 07.
  6. James M. Poterba & Kim Rueben, 1999. "State Fiscal Institutions and the U.S. Municipal Bond Market," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 181-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Heppke-Falk, Kirsten H. & Hüfner, Felix P., 2004. "Expected budget deficits and interest rate swap spreads - Evidence for France, Germany and Italy," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,40, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  8. Magnus Andersson & Lars Jul Overby & Szabolcs Sebestyén, 2009. "Which News Moves the Euro Area Bond Market?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 1-31, 02.
  9. Kerstin Bernoth & Guntram Wolff, 2006. "Fool the markets? Creative accounting, fiscal transparency and sovereign risk premia," DNB Working Papers 103, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  10. Marta Gomez Puig, 2006. "The Impact of Monetary Union on EU-15 Sovereign Debt Yield Spreads," Working Papers in Economics 147, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  11. Bernoth, Kerstin & von Hagen, Jürgen & Schuknecht, Ludger, 2004. "Sovereign risk premia in the European government bond market," ZEI Working Papers B 26-2003, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  12. Alexopoulou, Ioana & Bunda, Irina & Ferrando, Annalisa, 2009. "Determinants of government bond spreads in new EU countries," Working Paper Series 1093, European Central Bank.
  13. Simone Manganelli & Guido Wolswijk, 2009. "What drives spreads in the euro area government bond market?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 191-240, 04.
  14. Afonso, António & Strauch, Rolf, 2004. "Fiscal policy events and interest rate swap spreads: evidence from the EU," Working Paper Series 0303, European Central Bank.
  15. Edda Zoli & Silvia Sgherri, 2009. "Euro Area Sovereign Risk During the Crisis," IMF Working Papers 09/222, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Hallerberg, Mark & Wolff, Guntram B., 2006. "Fiscal institutions, fiscal policy and sovereign risk premia," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,35, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
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