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Optimal Sovereign Debt: An Analytical Approach

  • Jean-Charles Rochet

This paper develops a model of sovereign debt where governments are myopic. Instead of focusing on the incentives to repay, as in most of the theoretical literature on the topic (which assumes implicitly that governments have long-term objectives), I therefore consider that governments always repay when they can, but also borrow as much as possible. without paying attention to the burden of future repayments. The pattern of debt is then only determined by the willingness of international investors to lend to the country. I characterize the Rational Expectations Equilibria of the credit market. These equilibria behave like rational bubbles: international investors lend a lot because they anticipate that other investors will lend again in the future. Capital flows are procyclical: the government borrows a fixed proportion of its income until a sudden stop occurs, generating default and an economic crisis. I suggest possible remedies to the high volatility of public expenditures that is generated by such borrowing patterns.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4477.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4477
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  1. Kose, Ayhan & Prasad, Eswar & Rogoff, Kenneth & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2004. "Financial Globalization, Growth and Volatility in Developing Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 4772, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Luis Fernando Mejía, 2004. "On the Empirics of Sudden Stops: The Relevance of Balance-Sheet Effects," Research Department Publications 4367, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  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. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," NBER Working Papers 9908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003. "Debt intolerance," MPRA Paper 13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Kletzer, Kenneth M. & Wright, Brian D., 1998. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt4qg3c42v, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aizenman, Joshua & Powell, Andrew, 1998. "The political economy of public savings and the role of capital mobility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 67-95, October.
  8. Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2009. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1137-1164, 07.
  9. Jeremy A.Rogoff Bulow & Kenneth, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 43, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  10. Luis Catão & Sandeep Kapur, 2004. "Missing Link; Volatility and the Debt Intolerance Paradox," IMF Working Papers 04/51, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Sebastian Galiani & Daniel Heymann & Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "Missed Expectations: The Argentine Convertibility," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 515, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  12. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Kenneth Rogoff, 1999. "International Institutions for Reducing Global Financial Instability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 21-42, Fall.
  14. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Timothy J, 2000. "Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 91-116, January.
  15. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  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.
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