IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fth/bosecd/21.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sovereign Debt: A Primer

Author

Listed:
  • Jonathan Eaton

Abstract

The troublesome debts of a number of developing Countries have spawned a large literature on why countries borrow, on what debt contributes to growth, on why countries repay, and on how existing debt should be dealt with. This paper provides a basic introduction to some issues in sovereign debt. First. it presents the basic accounting concepts associated with debt and some data, focusing in particular on the net resource transfers associated with external borrowing. Second, it reviews the mechanics of debt and growth implied by the Harrod-Domar and two-gap growth models, and points out how this analysis can yield misleading conclusions about the sustainability of debt and the determinants of solvency. Third, it treats debt as a component of the intertemparal maximization of a borrower in a competitive loan market facing an intertemporal budget constraint. Fourth, it introduces debt into recent models of endogenous growth, and with the conclusion that what debt contributes to growth depends sensitively upon the source of growth. Fifth, it discusses issues arising from sovereign risk, including problems of liquidity, at enforcement, and of raising revenue to finance repayment (and the attendant problem of capital flight). Sixth, the paper examines incentives to repay, showing chat maintaining access to credit markets by itself can be a reason to repay sufficient to sustain substantial debt levels. Seventh, it reviews the various options available to a creditor facing a debcor unwilling to meet currenc debt-service obligations. A conclusion is chat declaring a debcor in default and seeking a legal remedy is relatively less attractive in the context of sovereign debt, compared with domestic lending, relative to the alternative of lending "new money" to meec debt-service obligations. Eighth, the paper examines debt buybacks. One conclusion is that, in the absence of any efficiency cost imposed by outstanding debt (so that the only implications of the form and extent of repayment are for the distribution of surplus between borrower and lender) how much a buyback benefits the borrower depends on how much buying back debt reduces what is available for repayment later. Another is that, if there are efficiency losses associated with debt (a "debt overhang") then debt forgiveness can benefit both a debtor and its creditors. Contrary to claims in the literature, this outcome does not require that a reduction in the face value of debt raise its market value (a "debt Laffer Curve"), and the debtor benefits even though the buyback raises the market price of tile debt. The efficiency argument for buybacks is inconsistent with the case for lengthening the maturity of the debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Eaton, 1991. "Sovereign Debt: A Primer," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 21, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:bosecd:21
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1991. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 391-435 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Diwan, Ishac & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli, 1990. "The menu approach to developing country external debt : an analysis of commercial banks'choice behavior," Policy Research Working Paper Series 530, The World Bank.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1988. "Financing vs. forgiving a debt overhang," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 253-268, November.
    6. Kletzer, K.M. & Wright, B.D., 1990. "Sovereign Debt Renegotiation In A Consumption-Smoothing Model," Papers 610, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Azam, Jean-Paul & Dia, Magueye, 2004. "Pro-Poor Growth in Senegal," IDEI Working Papers 325, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. Graham Bird & Nicholas Snowden, 1997. "From banks to bonds: a problem resolved? A perspective from the LDC debt literature," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 207-220.
    3. Plaut, Steven E. & Melnik, Arie L., 2003. "International institutional lending arrangements to sovereign borrowers," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 459-481, August.
    4. Menzies, Gordon Douglas, 2004. "First-best debt relief," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 301-306, March.
    5. Grossman, Herschel I. & Han, Taejoon, 1999. "Sovereign debt and consumption smoothing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 149-158, August.
    6. Schmidt, Klaus M. & Schnitzer, Monika, 1995. "The interaction of explicit and implicit contracts," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 193-199, May.
    7. Bowe, M. & Dean, J.W., 1997. "Has the Market Solved the Sovereign-Debt Crisis?," Princeton Studies in International Economics 83, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    8. Goopu, Sudarshan, 1996. "The analysis of emerging policy issues in development finance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1589, The World Bank.
    9. Paulo Augusto P. de Britto, 2004. "Sovereign Debt: Default, Market Sanction, and Bailout," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 237, Econometric Society.
    10. Gill, Indermit & Pinto, Brian, 2005. "Public debt in developing countries : has the market-based model worked?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3674, The World Bank.
    11. Gooptu, Sudarshan, 1996. "Emerging policy issues in development finance," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 85-100.
    12. Marco Arnone & Luca Bandiera & Andrea Presbitero, 2005. "External Debt Sustainability: Theory and Empirical Evidence," International Finance 0512007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Tornell, Aaron & Lane, Philip R., 1998. "Are windfalls a curse?: A non-representative agent model of the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 83-112, February.
    14. Muller, Thomas & Schnitzer, Monika, 2006. "Technology transfer and spillovers in international joint ventures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 456-468, March.
    15. Aaron Tornell & Philip Lane, 1994. "Are Windfalls a Curse? A Non-Representative Agent Model of the Current Account and Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 4839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Hernandez-Trillo, Fausto, 1995. "A model-based estimation of the probability of default in sovereign credit markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 163-179, February.
    17. Jonathan P. Thomas, 2001. "Default Costs, Willingness to Pay and Sovereign Debt Buybacks," International Finance 0103002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Abutaleb, Ahmed S. & Hamad, Marwa G., 2012. "Optimal foreign debt for Egypt: A stochastic control approach," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 544-556.
    19. Michael WESTPHALEN, 2002. "Valuation of Sovereign Debt with Strategic Defaulting and Rescheduling," FAME Research Paper Series rp43, International Center for Financial Asset Management and Engineering.
    20. Fløgstad, Cathrin N. & Nordtveit, Ingvild, 2014. "Lending to developing countries: How do official creditors respond to sovereign defaults?," Working Papers in Economics 01/14, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    21. Menzies, Gordon Douglas, 2006. "Debt and Aid, War and Peace: Policy Tradeoffs in Conflict-affected Countries," Review of Applied Economics, Lincoln University, Department of Financial and Business Systems, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-11.
    22. Menzies, Gordon Douglas, 2008. "Can HIPCs Use Hyper-Incentives?," Review of Applied Economics, Lincoln University, Department of Financial and Business Systems, vol. 0(Number 1-), pages 1-12.
    23. repec:pje:journl:article27winiii is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Andrea Presbitero & Dhaneshwar Ghura & Olumuyiwa S Adedeji & Lamin Njie, 2015. "International Sovereign Bonds by Emerging Markets and Developing Economies; Drivers of Issuance and Spreads," IMF Working Papers 15/275, International Monetary Fund.
    25. Naeem Akram, 2013. "Empirical examination of debt and growth nexus in South Asian countries," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 20(2), pages 29-52, December.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fth:bosecd:21. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/iedbuus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.