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Reputation spillover across relationships: reviving reputation models of debt


  • Harold L. Cole
  • Patrick J. Kehoe


A traditional explanation for why sovereign governments repay debts is that they want to keep good reputations so they can easily borrow more. Bulow and Rogoff show that this argument is invalid under two conditions: (i) there is a single debt relationship, and (ii) regardless of their past actions, governments can earn the (possibly state-contingent) market rate of return by saving abroad. Bulow and Rogoff conjecture that, even under condition (ii), in more general reputation models with multiple relationships and spillover across them, reputation may support debt. This paper shows what is needed for this conjecture to be true.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold L. Cole & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1996. "Reputation spillover across relationships: reviving reputation models of debt," Staff Report 209, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:209

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eaton, Jonathan & Fernandez, Raquel, 1995. "Sovereign debt," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 3, pages 2031-2077 Elsevier.
    2. Cole, Harold L & Dow, James & English, William B, 1995. "Default, Settlement, and Signalling: Lending Resumption in a Reputational Model of Sovereign Debt," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 365-385, May.
    3. Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1992. "Sovereign Debt: Forgiving and Forgetting Reconsidered," Discussion Papers 1016, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    4. Atkeson, Andrew, 1991. "International Lending with Moral Hazard and Risk of Repudiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1069-1089, July.
    5. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 155-178, February.
    6. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
    7. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    8. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
    9. Harold L. Cole & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1996. "Reputation Spillover Across Relationships with Enduring and Transient Beliefs: Reviving reputation Models of Debt," NBER Working Papers 5486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Grossman, Herschel I & Van Huyck, John B, 1988. "Sovereign Debt as a Contingent Claim: Excusable Default, Repudiation, and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1088-1097, December.
    11. Diamond, Douglas W, 1989. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 828-862, August.
    12. Kletzer, Kenneth M, 1984. "Asymmetries of Information and LDC Borrowing with Sovereign Risk," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 287-307, June.
    13. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-666.
    14. Raquel Fernandez & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1990. "Strategic Models of Sovereign-Debt Renegotiations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 331-349.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
    2. Karsten Jeske, 2006. "Private International Debt with Risk of Repudiation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 576-593, June.
    3. Seema Jayachandran & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Odious Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 82-92, March.
    4. Loren Brandt & Arthur Hosios, 2004. "Informal Credit in Village Economies: Contract Duration with Personal and Community Enforcement," Law and Economics 0410001, EconWPA.
    5. Guillermo Ordonez, 2005. "Don't Ask Why Things Went Wrong: Nested Reputation and Scapegoating Inefficiency," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000988, David K. Levine.
    6. Helmut Krämer-Eis, 1998. "Evaluierung hoheitlicher Länderrisiken," Working Paper Series B 1998-01, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultïät.
    7. Michael Kremer & Paras Mehta, 2000. "Globalization and International Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 7575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Karsten Jeske, 2005. "Private international debt with risk of repudiation," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2001-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    9. Peter J Montiel & Samir Jahjah, 2003. "Exchange Rate Policy and Debt Crises in Emerging Economies," IMF Working Papers 03/60, International Monetary Fund.
    10. della Paolera, Gerardo & Taylor, Alan M., 2013. "Sovereign debt in Latin America, 1820-1913," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(02), pages 173-217, September.
    11. Guillermo Ordonez, 2008. "Essays on Learning and Macroeconomics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002250, David K. Levine.
    12. Adrian Penalver, 2004. "How can the IMF catalyse private capital flows? A model," Bank of England working papers 215, Bank of England.
    13. Pierre Jacquet & Jean-Michel Severino, 2004. "Prêter, donner : comment aider ?," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 74(1), pages 285-317.
    14. repec:sbe:breart:v:22:y:2002:i:2:a:2739 is not listed on IDEAS

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