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Inflation, Debt, and Default

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  • Sewon Hur
  • Illenin O. Kondo
  • Fabrizio Perri

Abstract

We study how the co-movement of inflation and economic activity affects real interest rates and the likelihood of debt crises. First, we show that for advanced economies, periods with procyclical inflation are associated with lower real interest rates. Procyclical inflation implies that nominal bonds pay out more in bad times, making them a good hedge against aggregate risk. However, such procyclicality also increases sovereign default risk when the economy deteriorates, since the government needs to make larger (real) payments. In order to evaluate both effects, we develop a model of sovereign default on domestic nominal debt with exogenous inflation risk and domestic risk-averse lenders. Countercyclical inflation is a substitute with default, while procyclical inflation is a complement with it, by increasing default incentives. In good times, when default is unlikely, procyclical inflation yields lower real rates. In bad times, as default becomes more material, procyclical inflation can magnify default risk and trigger an increase in real rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Sewon Hur & Illenin O. Kondo & Fabrizio Perri, 2018. "Inflation, Debt, and Default," Working Papers (Old Series) 1812, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 28 Sep 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1812
    DOI: 10.26509/frbc-wp-201812
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.26509/frbc-wp-201812
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Miguel Angel Santos, 2016. "From Financial Repression to External Distress: The Case of Venezuela," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(2), pages 255-284, February.
    2. Ricardo Sabbadini, 2018. "International Reserves Management in a Model of Partial Sovereign Default," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2018_14, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    3. Cristina Arellano & Yan Bai & Gabriel Mihalache, 2018. "Inflation Targeting with Sovereign Default Risk," Department of Economics Working Papers 18-14, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    4. Ricardo Sabbadini, 2017. "Overcoming the Original Sin: Gains from Local Currency External Debt," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2017_27, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sovereign default; interest rates; domestic nominal debt; inflation risk;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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