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Sovereign Debt Relief and Its Aftermath

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  • Reinhart, Carmen M.

    (Harvard University)

  • Trebesch, Christoph

    (Ludwig Maximilian U Munich and CESifo, Munich)

Abstract

This paper studies sovereign debt relief in a long-term perspective. We quantify the relief achieved through default and restructuring in two distinct samples: 1920-1939, focusing on the defaults on official (government to government) debt in advanced economies after World War I; and 1978-2010, focusing on emerging market debt crises with private external creditors. Debt relief was substantial in both eras averaging 21% of GDP in the 1930s and 16% of GDP in recent decades. We analyze the aftermath of debt relief and conduct a difference-in-differences analysis around the synchronous war debt defaults of 1934 and the Baker and Brady initiatives of the 1980s/1990s. The economic landscape of debtor countries improves significantly after debt relief operations, but only if these involve debt write-offs. Softer forms of debt relief, such as maturity extensions and interest rate reductions, are not generally followed by higher economic growth or improved credit ratings.

Suggested Citation

  • Reinhart, Carmen M. & Trebesch, Christoph, 2015. "Sovereign Debt Relief and Its Aftermath," Working Paper Series rwp15-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp15-028
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Christoph Trebesch, 2016. "The International Monetary Fund: 70 Years of Reinvention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent Reinhart & Christoph Trebesch, 2016. "Global Cycles: Capital Flows, Commodities, and Sovereign Defaults, 1815-2015," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 574-580, May.
    3. Fabrizio Balassone & Sara Cecchetti & Martina Cecioni & Marika Cioffi & Wanda Cornacchia & Flavia Corneli & Gabriele Semeraro, 2016. "Economic governance in the euro area: balancing risk reduction and risk sharing," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 344, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Gregori Galofré-Vilà & Martin McKee & Christopher M. Meissner & David Stuckler, 2016. "The Economic Consequences of the 1953 London Debt Agreement," NBER Working Papers 22557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:eee:inecon:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:91-110 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Anusha Chari & Ryan Leary & Toan Phan, 2017. "The Costs of (sub)Sovereign Default Risk: Evidence from Puerto Rico," NBER Working Papers 24108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Consiglio, Andrea & Zenios, Stavros A., 2015. "The Case for Contingent Convertible Debt for Sovereignst," Working Papers 15-13, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
    8. Trebesch, Christoph & Zabel, Michael, 2017. "The output costs of hard and soft sovereign default," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 416-432.
    9. Mattia Osvaldo Picarelli, 2016. "Debt Overhang and Sovereign Debt Restructuring," Working Papers 9/16, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    10. repec:eme:isetez:s1571-038620150000024018 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Carmen M. Reinhart & Christoph Trebesch, 2015. "The Pitfalls of External Dependence: Greece, 1829–2015," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(2 (Fall)), pages 307-328.
    12. Lorenzo Forni & Geremia Palomba & Joana Pereira & Christine J. Richmond, 2016. "Sovereign Debt Restructuring and Growth," IMF Working Papers 16/147, International Monetary Fund.
    13. Marianna Astore & Michele Fratianni, 2016. ""We can't pay": How Italy cancelled war debts after Lausanne," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 129, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    14. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2015. "Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 2(4), pages 5-17, June.
    15. Müller, Andreas & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2015. "Sovereign Debt and Structural Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 10588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Gong Cheng & Javier Diaz-Cassou & Aitor Erce, 2017. "From Debt Collection to Relief Provision: 60 Years of Official Debt Restructurings through the Paris Club," Working Papers 20, European Stability Mechanism.
    17. repec:sgm:jbfeuw:v:2:y:2015:i:4:p:13 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Gong Cheng & Javier Díaz Cassou & Aitor Erce, 2017. "From Debt Collection to Relief Provision: 60 Years of Official Debt Restructurings through the Paris Club," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8081, Inter-American Development Bank.
    19. Silvia Marchesi, 2016. "Life after default? Private vs. official sovereign debt restructurings," Development Working Papers 398, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 26 Aug 2016.
    20. Willi Semmler & Christian R. Proaño, 2015. "Escape Routes from Sovereign Default Risk in the Euro Area," International Symposia in Economic Theory and Econometrics,in: Monetary Policy in the Context of the Financial Crisis: New Challenges and Lessons, volume 24, pages 163-193 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    21. Busch, Berthold & Matthes, Jürgen, 2015. "Ein Staatsinsolvenzverfahren für den Euroraum," IW policy papers 23/2015, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln (IW) / Cologne Institute for Economic Research.
    22. Michel Guillard & Hubert Kempf (Ecole Normale de Cachan & université Paris-Saclay), 2016. "Sovereign default and public debt sustainability," EcoMod2016 9696, EcoMod.
    23. Catão, Luis A.V. & Mano, Rui C., 2017. "Default premium," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 91-110.

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    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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