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Sovereign Debt Composition in Advanced Economies; A Historical Perspective

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  • S. M. Ali Abbas
  • Laura Blattner
  • Mark De Broeck
  • Asmaa A ElGanainy
  • Malin Hu

Abstract

We examine how the composition of public debt, broken down by currency, maturity, holder profile and marketability, has responded to major debt accumulation and consolidation episodes during 1900-2011. Covering thirteen advanced economies, we focus on debt structure shifts that occurred around the two World Wars and global economic downturns, and the subsequent debt consolidations. Notwithstanding data gaps, we are able to recover some broad common patterns. Episodes of large debt accumulation—essentially, large increases in debt supply— were typically absorbed by increases in short-term, foreign currency-denominated, and banking-system-held debt. However, this pattern did not hold during the debt build-ups starting in the 1980s and 1990s, which were compositionally skewed toward long-term local-currency debt. We attribute this change to higher structural demand for sovereign paper, linked to capital account liberalization in advanced economies, the emergence of a large contractual saving sector, and innovative sovereign debt products. With regard to debt consolidations, we find support for the financial repression-cum-inflation channel for post World War II debt reductions. However, the scope for a repeat of this strategy appears limited unless financial liberalization and globalization were materially rolled back or the current globally agreed monetary policy regime built around price stability abandoned. Neither are significant favorable structural demand shifts, as witnessed in the 1980s and 1990s, likely.

Suggested Citation

  • S. M. Ali Abbas & Laura Blattner & Mark De Broeck & Asmaa A ElGanainy & Malin Hu, 2014. "Sovereign Debt Composition in Advanced Economies; A Historical Perspective," IMF Working Papers 14/162, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:14/162
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    Cited by:

    1. Amrita Dhillon & Andrew Pickering & Tomas Sjöström, 2019. "Sovereign debt: election concerns and the democratic disadvantage," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 320-343.
    2. Antonio Fatás & Atish R. Ghosh & Ugo Panizza & Andrea F Presbitero, 2019. "The Motives to Borrow," IMF Working Papers 19/101, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Illenin Kondo & Fabrizio Perri & Sewon Hur, 2016. "Inflation, Debt, and Default," 2016 Meeting Papers 1610, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Alexander Chudik & Kamiar Mohaddes & M. Hashem Pesaran & Mehdi Raissi, 2017. "Is There a Debt-Threshold Effect on Output Growth?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(1), pages 135-150, March.
    5. Dafermos, Yannis & Nikolaidi, Maria & Galanis, Giorgos, 2018. "Climate Change, Financial Stability and Monetary Policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 219-234.
    6. Afonso, António & Tovar Jalles, João, 2017. "Sovereign debt composition and time-varying public finance sustainability," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 144-155.
    7. Massimiliano Rigon & Francesco Zanetti, 2018. "Optimal Monetary Policy and Fiscal Policy Interaction in a Non-Ricardian Economy," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 14(3), pages 389-436, June.
    8. Equiza-Goñi, Juan, 2016. "Government debt maturity and debt dynamics in euro area countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 292-311.
    9. El-Shagi, Makram, 2016. "Much ado about nothing: Sovereign ratings and government bond yields in the OECD," IWH Discussion Papers 22/2016, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    10. Gianluca Cafiso, 2014. "Debt Sustainability in the Case of External Debt. An Analysis Based on Italy's Treasury Auctions," CESifo Working Paper Series 5021, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Barry Eichengreen & Asmaa El-Ganainy & Rui Esteves & Kris James Mitchener, 2019. "Public Debt Through the Ages," NBER Working Papers 25494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Josh Ryan-Collins & Frank van Lerven, 2018. "Bringing the helicopter to ground: a historical review of fiscal-monetary coordination to support economic growth in the 20th century," Working Papers PKWP1810, Post Keynesian Economics Society (PKES).
    13. Favero, Carlo A. & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2015. "Demographics and the Secular Stagnation Hypothesis in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 10887, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. 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.
    15. Nicholas Apergis & Arusha Cooray, 2015. "The dynamics of Greek public debt - evidence from simultaneous and structural VAR models," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(10), pages 967-980, February.
    16. Juan Equiza Goni, 2014. "Sovereign Debt Maturity and Debt-to GDP Dynamics in Six Euro Area Countries," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-44, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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