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Debt Sustainability Assessment: The IMF Approach and Alternatives

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Abstract

Debt sustainability is an essential attribute of good macroeconomic policies but its precise definition is elusive and its assessment is even more challenging. The IMF has developed a sophisticated approach but it must be recognized that, because the future is unknown, any debt sustainability assessment is only valid within the bounds of the underlying guesses. There is no support for the view that added complexity allows for more precise assessments. As a consequence, policy conclusions drawn from debts sustainability exercises must be considered with care. Sacrificing growth – in the short and even in the long run – to imprecisely known risks can be very costly.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Wyplosz, 2007. "Debt Sustainability Assessment: The IMF Approach and Alternatives," IHEID Working Papers 03-2007, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heiwp03-2007
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    File URL: http://repec.graduateinstitute.ch/pdfs/Working_papers/HEIWP03-2007.pdf
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    1. Eduardo Borensztein & Olivier D Jeanne & Paolo Mauro & Jeronimo Zettelmeyer & Marcos Chamon, 2005. "Sovereign Debt Structure for Crisis Prevention," IMF Occasional Papers 237, International Monetary Fund.
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    3. Roberto Chang & Andrés Velasco, 2000. "Liquidity Crises in Emerging Markets: Theory and Policy," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 11-78 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
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    6. Marcio Garcia & Roberto Rigobon, 2004. "A Risk Management Approach to Emerging Market's Sovereign Debt Sustainability with an Application to Brazilian Data," NBER Working Papers 10336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Litsios, Ioannis & Pilbeam, Keith, 2017. "An empirical analysis of the nexus between investment, fiscal balances and current account balances in Greece, Portugal and Spain," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 143-152.
    2. Pradhan, Krishanu, 2014. "Assessment of India's fiscal and external sector vulnerability: A balance sheet approach," Working Papers 327, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    3. Salifou Issoufou & Edward F Buffie & Mouhamadou Bamba Diop & Kalidou Thiaw, 2014. "Efficient Energy Investment and Fiscal Adjustment in Senegal," IMF Working Papers 14/44, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Cuerpo, Carlos & Drumond, Inês & Lendvai, Julia & Pontuch, Peter & Raciborski, Rafal, 2015. "Private sector deleveraging in Europe," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 372-383.
    5. Bruno Albuquerque & Ursel Baumann & Georgi Krustev, 2014. "Has US Household Deleveraging Ended? A Model-Based Estimate of Equilibrium Debt," Working Papers w201404, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    6. Paniagua, Jordi & Sapena, Juan & Tamarit, Cecilio, 2017. "Fiscal sustainability in EMU countries: A continued fiscal commitment?," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 85-97.
    7. Yibin Mu, 2012. "Striking an Appropriate Balance Among Public Investment, Growth, and Debt Sustainability in Cape Verde," IMF Working Papers 12/280, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Mthuli Ncube & Zuzana Brixiová, 2015. "Public Debt Sustainability in Africa: Building Resilience and Challenges Ahead," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 33(5), pages 555-580, September.
    9. Michele Andreolli & Aidar Abdychev, 2016. "Investing in Electricity, Growth, and Debt Sustainability; The Case of Lesotho," IMF Working Papers 16/115, International Monetary Fund.
    10. G. Lamé & M. Lequien & P.-A. Pionnier, 2014. "Interpretation and limits of sustainability tests in public finance," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(6), pages 616-628, February.
    11. Marianna Sávai, 2016. "Short-term Fiscal Sustainability of V4 Countries," European Financial and Accounting Journal, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(3), pages 169-182.
    12. A. Bruggeman & Ch. Van Nieuwenhuyze, 2013. "Size and dynamics of debt positions in Belgium and in the euro area," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue i, pages 57-77, June.
    13. Maximilien Kaffo Melou & Mariusz A. Sumlinski & Chris Geiregat, 2014. "An Application of the "Fan-Chart Approach" to Debt Sustainability in Post-HIPC Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 14/102, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Robert Ambrisko & Vilma Dingova & Michal Dvorak & Dana Hajkova & Eva Hromadkova & Kamila Kulhava & Radka Stikova, 2017. "Assessing the Fiscal Sustainability of the Czech Republic," Research and Policy Notes 2017/02, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    15. Mthuli Ncube & Zuzana Brixiova, 2015. "Working Paper 227 - Public Debt Sustainability in Africa: Building Resilience and Challenges Ahead," Working Paper Series 2170, African Development Bank.
    16. Masuch, Klaus & Moshammer, Edmund & Pierluigi, Beatrice, 2016. "Institutions and Growth in Europe," CEPS Papers 11482, Centre for European Policy Studies.

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    Keywords

    International Economics; Exchange Rates; External debt;

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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