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History Remembered: Optimal Sovereign Default on Domestic and External Debt

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  • Pablo D'Erasmo
  • Enrique G. Mendoza

Abstract

Infrequent but turbulent overt sovereign defaults on domestic creditors are a ?for- gotten history? in macroeconomics. We propose a heterogeneous-agents model in which the government chooses optimal debt and default on domestic and foreign creditors by balancing distributional incentives versus the social value of debt for self-insurance, liquidity, and risk-sharing. A rich feedback mechanism links debt issuance, the distribution of debt holdings, the default decision, and risk premia. Calibrated to Eurozone data, the model is consistent with key long-run and debt-crisis statistics. Defaults are rare (1.2 percent frequency) and preceded by surging debt and spreads. Debt sells at the risk-free price most of the time, but the government?s lack of commitment reduces sustainable debt sharply.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo D'Erasmo & Enrique G. Mendoza, 2019. "History Remembered: Optimal Sovereign Default on Domestic and External Debt," Working Papers 19-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:19-31
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.21799/frbp.wp.2019.31
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    1. Demian Pouzo & Ignacio Presno, 2020. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Default under Incomplete Markets," International Finance Discussion Papers 1297, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    3. Dachraoui, Hajer & Smida, Mounir & Sebri, Maamar, 2020. "Role of capital flight as a driver of sovereign bond spreads in Latin American countries," International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 15-33.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    public debt; sovereign default; debt crisis; European crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • 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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