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Macroeconomic volatility, debt dynamics, and sovereign interest rate spreads

While the relationship between volatility and risk is central to much of the financial literature it has not been incorporated systematically into assessment of sovereign debt sustainability. This paper attempts to fill this gap by studying how the probability distribution of sovereign debt to GDP ratios depends on the stochastic properties of underlying variables such as the real interest rate, the real growth rate, and the primary budget deficit. Due to the highly non-linear relationship between these variables and the debt ratios, Monte-Carlo simulations have to be used to estimate the probability distribution at different horizons. Using the right-hand tail of the distribution as a measure of the risk, we are able to show how the volatility of the underlying variables as well as potential interactions between them influences country risk. Using estimates of volatility parameters of a sample of developed and emerging markets, we construct risk measures for each of them. We hypothesize that this risk measure should be positively correlated with the spread of sovereign bonds of the countries. Preliminary econometric tests suggest that this is indeed the case. Thus, while conventional analyses of the determinants of sovereign spreads have not focused on volatility dynamics, financial markets seem to have incorporated it in sovereign bond pricing.

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Paper provided by Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies in its series IHEID Working Papers with number 03-2004.

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Length: 23
Date of creation: 14 May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heiwp03-2004
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  7. Beck, Roland, 2001. "Do country fundamentals explain emerging market bond spreads?," CFS Working Paper Series 2001/02, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
  9. Hong G. Min, 1998. "Determinants of emerging market bond spread : do economic fundamentals matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1899, The World Bank.
  10. Ahmed, Shaghil & Rogers, John H., 1995. "Government budget deficits and trade deficits Are present value constraints satisfied in long-term data?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 351-374, November.
  11. Theodore M. Barnhill & George Kopits, 2003. "Assessing Fiscal Sustainability Under Uncertainity," IMF Working Papers 03/79, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Uctum, Merih & Wickens, Michael, 2000. " Debt and Deficit Ceilings, and Sustainability of Fiscal Policies: An Intertemporal Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(2), pages 197-222, May.
  13. Barry Eichengreen & Ashoka Mody, 2000. "What Explains Changing Spreads on Emerging Market Debt?," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Flows and the Emerging Economies: Theory, Evidence, and Controversies, pages 107-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Trehan, Bharat & Walsh, Carl E, 1991. "Testing Intertemporal Budget Constraints: Theory and Applications to U.S. Federal Budget and Current Account Deficits," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(2), pages 206-23, May.
  15. Márcio Gomes Pinto Garcia & Roberto Rigobon, 2004. "A Risk Management Approach to Emerging Market’s Sovereign Debt Sustainability with an Application to Brazilian Data," Textos para discussão 484, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  16. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  17. Bartolini, Leonardo & Cottarelli, Carlo, 1994. "Government Ponzi games and the sustainability of public deficits under uncertainty," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-22, March.
  18. Luis Catão & Sandeep Kapur, 2004. "Missing Link; Volatility and the Debt Intolerance Paradox," IMF Working Papers 04/51, International Monetary Fund.
  19. Morris Goldstein, 2003. "Debt Sustainability, Brazil, and the IMF," Working Paper Series WP03-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  20. Enrica Detragiache & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2001. "Crises and Liquidity; Evidence and Interpretation," IMF Working Papers 01/2, International Monetary Fund.
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  23. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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