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The Stock of External Sovereign Debt: Can We Take the Data at ‘Face Value’?

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  • Dias, Daniel A.

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Richmond, Christine

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Wright, Mark L. J.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

The stock of sovereign debt is typically measured at face value. Defined as the undiscounted sum of future principal repayments, face values are misleading when debts are issued with different contractual forms or maturities. In this paper, we construct alternative measures of the stock of external sovereign debt for 100 developing countries from 1979 through 2006 that correct for differences in contractual form and maturity. We show that our alternative measures: (1) paint a very different quantitative, and in some cases also qualitative, picture of the stock of developing country external sovereign debt; (2) often invert rankings of indebtedness across countries, which historically defined eligibility for debt forgiveness; (3) indicate that the empirical performance of the benchmark quantitative model of sovereign debt deteriorates by roughly 50% once model-consistent measures of debt are used; (4) show how the spread of aggregation clauses in debt contracts that award creditors voting power in proportion to the contractual face value may introduce inefficiencies into the process of restructuring sovereign debts; and (5) illustrate how countries have manipulated their debt issuance to meet fiscal targets written in terms of face values.

Suggested Citation

  • Dias, Daniel A. & Richmond, Christine & Wright, Mark L. J., 2014. "The Stock of External Sovereign Debt: Can We Take the Data at ‘Face Value’?," Working Paper Series WP-2014-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2014-05
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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo Reis, 2015. "Looking for a Success in the Euro Crisis Adjustment Programs: The Case of Portugal," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(2 (Fall)), pages 433-458.
    2. Eberhardt, Markus & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2015. "Public debt and growth: Heterogeneity and non-linearity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 45-58.
    3. repec:eee:inecon:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:91-110 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aart Kraay, 2014. "Government Spending Multipliers in Developing Countries: Evidence from Lending by Official Creditors," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 170-208, October.
    5. Carmine Gabriele & Aitor Erce & Marialena Athanasopoulou & Juan Rojas, 2017. "Debt Stocks Meet Gross Financing Needs: A Flow Perspective into Sustainability," Working Papers 24, European Stability Mechanism.
    6. Michael Tomz & Mark L.J. Wright, 2013. "Empirical Research on Sovereign Debt and Default," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 247-272, May.
    7. Kim Oosterlinck, 2013. "Sovereign debt defaults: insights from history," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-714, WINTER.
    8. S Coleman & K Sirichand, 2015. "Investigating Multiple Changes in Persistence in International Yields," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 20(1), pages 65-90, March.
    9. Seon Tae Kim & Gabriel Mihalache & Yan Bai, 2014. "Maturity and Repayment Structure of Sovereign Debt," 2014 Meeting Papers 523, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Julian Schumacher & Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 2015. "Greek Debt Sustainability and Official Crisis Lending," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(2 (Fall)), pages 279-305.
    11. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller, 2012. "Debt and Macroeconomic Stability: An Overview of the Literature and Some Empirics," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1006, OECD Publishing.
    12. Mark Wright & Christine Richmond & Daniel Dias, 2013. "In for a Penny, In for a 100 Billion Pounds: Quantifying the Welfare Benefits from Debt Relief," 2013 Meeting Papers 646, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Mariam Camarero & Jesús Peiró-Palomino & Cecilio Tamarit, 2017. "External imbalances and growth," Working Papers 2017/02, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    14. Aguiar, Mark & Amador, Manuel, 2014. "Sovereign Debt," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    15. Mika, Alina & Zumer, Tina, 2017. "Indebtedness in the EU: a drag or a catalyst for growth?," Working Paper Series 2118, European Central Bank.
    16. Rohan Pitchford & Mark L. J. Wright, 2013. "On the contribution of game theory to the study of sovereign debt and default," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 649-667, WINTER.
    17. Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador, 2013. "Sovereign Debt: A Review," NBER Working Papers 19388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Catão, Luis A.V. & Mano, Rui C., 2017. "Default premium," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 91-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Stocks; Sovereign debts;

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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