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Explaining latin america’s persistent defaults: an analysis of debtor-creditor relations in London, 1822-1914

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  • Flores Zendejas, Juan

Abstract

This paper analyses the reasons why most Latin American governments frequently defaulted on their debts during the 19th century. Contrary to previous works, which focused on domestic factors, I argue that supply-side factors were equally important. The regulatory framework at the London Stock Exchange impeded defaulting governments from having access to the market. Therefore, the implicit incentive for underwriting banks and governments was to accelerate the negotiations with bondholders, particularly during periods of high liquidity. Frequently, however, the settlements reached were short-lived. In contrast, certain merchant banks opted to delay or refuse a settlement if they judged that the risks of a renewed default were too high. In such cases, even if negotiations were extended, the final agreements were more often respected, allowing governments to improve their repayment record.

Suggested Citation

  • Flores Zendejas, Juan, 2020. "Explaining latin america’s persistent defaults: an analysis of debtor-creditor relations in London, 1822-1914," Working Papers unige:140134, University of Geneva, Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:gnv:wpaper:unige:140134
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ugo Panizza & Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2009. "The Economics and Law of Sovereign Debt and Default," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 651-698, September.
    2. Marc Flandreau & Juan H. Flores & Norbert Gaillard & Sebastián Nieto-Parra, 2010. "The End of Gatekeeping: Underwriters and the Quality of Sovereign Bond Markets, 1815-2007," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2009, pages 53-92, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. A. G. Ford, 1956. "Argentina And The Baring Crisis Of 1890," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 127-160.
    4. della Paolera, Gerardo & Taylor, Alan M., 2013. "Sovereign debt in Latin America, 1820-1913," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(2), pages 173-217, September.
    5. Cassis, Youssef & Cottrell, Philip L., 2015. "Private Banking in Europe: Rise, Retreat, and Resurgence," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198735755.
    6. Rui Pedro Esteves, 2007. "Quis custodiet quem? Sovereign Debt and Bondholders` Protection Before 1914," Economics Series Working Papers 323, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2008. "Globalization and the Great Divergence: terms of trade booms, volatility and the poor periphery, 1782–1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 355-391, December.
    8. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2008. "Globalization and the Great Divergence: Terms of Trade Booms and Volatility in the Poor Periphery 1782-1913," NBER Working Papers 13841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Klovland, Jan Tore, 1994. "Pitfalls in the Estimation of the Yield on British Consols, 1850–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 164-187, March.
    11. Neal, Larry & Davis, Lance, 2006. "The evolution of the structure and performance of the London Stock Exchange in the first global financial market, 1812–1914," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 279-300, December.
    12. Sicotte, Richard & Vizcarra, Catalina, 2009. "War and Foreign Debt Settlement in Early Republican Spanish America," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 247-289, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sovereign debt; Defaults; Defaults; Underwriting; Financial crises;

    JEL classification:

    • N26 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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