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Models of sovereign debt: partial vs. general reputations


  • Harold L. Cole
  • Patrick J. Kehoe


Bulow and Rogoff (1989b) show that as long as governments can earn the market rate of return by saving abroad, standard reputation models cannot support debt. We argue that these standard reputation models are partial in the sense that actions of agents in one arena affect reputation in that arena only. We develop a general model of reputation in which if a government is viewed as untrustworthy in one relationship, this government will be viewed as untrustworthy in other relationships. We show that our general model of reputation can support large amounts of debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold L. Cole & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1997. "Models of sovereign debt: partial vs. general reputations," Working Papers 580, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:580

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1992. "Sovereign Debt: Forgiving and Forgetting Reconsidered," Discussion Papers 1016, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Atkeson, Andrew, 1991. "International Lending with Moral Hazard and Risk of Repudiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1069-1089, July.
    4. Cole, Harold L. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1995. "The role of institutions in reputation models of sovereign debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 45-64, February.
    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. Diamond, Douglas W, 1989. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 828-862, August.
    9. 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.
    10. 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. Andrew K. Rose & Mark M. Spiegel, 2009. "Noneconomic Engagement and International Exchange: The Case of Environmental Treaties," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(2-3), pages 337-363, March.

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