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Debt Levels, Debt Composition, and Sovereign Spreads in Emerging and Advanced Economies



This paper studies the relationship between sovereign spreads and the interaction between debt composition and debt levels in advanced and emerging market countries. It finds that in emerging market countries there is a significant correlation between spreads and debt levels. This correlation, however, is not statistically significant in countries where most public debt is denominated in local currency. In advanced economies, the magnitude of the correlation between debt levels and spreads is about one fifth of the corresponding correlation for emerging market economies. In Eurozone countries, however, the correlation between spreads and debt ratios is similar to that of emerging market countries. The paper also shows that the financial crisis amplified the relationship between spreads and debt levels within the Eurozone but had no effect on the relationship between spreads and debt in standalone countries. Finally, the paper shows that the relationship between debt levels and spreads is amplified by the presence of large net foreign liabilities. This amplifying effect of net foreign liabilities is larger in the Eurozone than in standalone advanced economies. The paper concludes that debt composition matters and corroborates the original sin hypothesis that, rather than being a mere reflection of institutional weaknesses, the presence of foreign currency debt increases financial fragility and leads to suboptimal macroeconomic policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Salvatore Dell’Erba & Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza, 2013. "Debt Levels, Debt Composition, and Sovereign Spreads in Emerging and Advanced Economies," IHEID Working Papers 12-2013, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heidwp12-2013

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Lorenzo Pandolfi & Tomas Williams, 2017. "Capital Flows and Sovereign Debt Markets: Evidence from Index Rebalancings," CSEF Working Papers 487, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    3. Mathieu Grobéty, 2017. "Government Debt and Growth: The Role of Liquidity," Working Papers 2017-13, Swiss National Bank.
    4. Beck, Roland & Ferrucci, Gianluigi & Hantzsche, Arno & Rau-Göhring, Matthias, 2017. "Determinants of sub-sovereign bond yield spreads – The role of fiscal fundamentals and federal bailout expectations," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 72-98.
    5. Jeanneret, Alexandre & Souissi, Slim, 2016. "Sovereign defaults by currency denomination," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 197-222.
    6. Duygu Yolcu Karadam & Erdal Özmen, 2016. "Real Exchange Rates and Growth," ERC Working Papers 1609, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Sep 2016.
    7. Kelbesa Megersa & Danny Cassimon, 2015. "Public Debt, Economic Growth, and Public Sector Management in Developing Countries: Is There a Link?," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 329-346, December.
    8. Barry Eichengreen & Ugo Panizza, 2016. "A surplus of ambition: can Europe rely on large primary surpluses to solve its debt problem?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 31(85), pages 5-49.
    9. Yilmaz Akyüz, 2014. "Internationalization of Finance and Changing Vulnerabilities in Emerging and Developing Economies," UNCTAD Discussion Papers 217, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
    10. Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov & Luca A Ricci, 2016. "Does Gross or Net Debt Matter More for Emerging Market Spreads?," IMF Working Papers 16/246, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Markus Eberhardt & Andrea Presbitero, 2013. "This Time They Are Different; Heterogeneity and Nonlinearity in the Relationship Between Debt and Growth," IMF Working Papers 13/248, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Bernd Bartels & Constantin Weiser, 2014. "Public Debt & Sovereign Ratings - Do Industrialized Countries Enjoy a Privilege?," Working Papers 1417, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 29 Nov 2014.
    13. Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2014. "Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 21-41.
    14. Mikhail Stolbov, 2017. "Assessing systemic risk and its determinants for advanced and major emerging economies: the case of ΔCoVaR," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 119-152, January.
    15. M. Ayhan Kose & Sergio Kurlat & Franziska Ohnsorge & Naotaka Sugawara, 2017. "A Cross-Country Database of Fiscal Space," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1713, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    16. António Afonso & João Tovar Jalles, 2017. "Sovereign Debt Effects and Composition: Evidence from Time-Varying Estimates," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/03, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    17. Chris Garbers & Guangling Liu, 2017. "Macroprudential policy and foreign interest rate shocks: A comparison of different instruments and regulatory regimes," Working Papers 15/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    18. Ugo Panizza, 2014. "Public Debt Risks in Italy Myths, Facts, and Policies," IHEID Working Papers 13-2014, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies, revised 12 Feb 2014.
    19. Bartels, Bernhard & Weiser, Constantin, 2015. "Public Debt & Sovereign Ratings - Do Industrialized Countries Enjoy a Privilege?," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112822, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. Clark, Ephraim & Kassimatis, Konstantinos, 2015. "Macroeconomic effects on emerging-markets sovereign credit spreads," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 1-13.
    21. António Afonso & Frederico Silva Leal, 2017. "Sovereign yield spreads in the EMU: crisis and structural determinants," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/09, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.

    More about this item


    Spreads; Public debt; Original Sin; Euro;

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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