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Debt overhang, liquidity constraints and adjustment incentives

  • Hofman, Bert
  • Reisen, Helmut

Investment in most heavily indebted countries has been weak since 1982. Several papers (Krugman, 1988; Corden, 1988; Sachs, 1989) have subsequently established the debt overhang proposition: the existence of a heavy debt burden reduces the incentive to invest.1 This proposition has given an important rationale for the 1989 shift in international debt management, emphasizing debt relief rather than new money for problem debtors. This paper will raise doubts against the debt overhang proposition: Its analytical implications are found to be ambiguous, its empirical content is found to be weak. We conclude, that investment in the average debtor country is likely to benefit more from new lending than from debt reduction.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 432.

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Date of creation: 1990
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Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:432
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  1. Alain Ize & Guillermo Ortiz, 1987. "Fiscal Rigidities, Public Debt, and Capital Flight," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(2), pages 311-332, June.
  2. W. Max Corden, 1988. "Debt Relief and Adjustment Incentives," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(4), pages 628-643, December.
  3. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1989. "Introduction to "Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System"," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages 1-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1989. "Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance. The International Financial System," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages -12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Froot, Kenneth A, 1989. "Buybacks, Exit Bonds, and the Optimality of Debt and Liquidity Relief," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(1), pages 49-70, February.
  6. Reisen, Helmut, 1989. "Public debt, North and South," Policy Research Working Paper Series 253, The World Bank.
  7. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Market-Based Debt-Reduction Schemes," NBER Working Papers 2587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Philippe Callier, 1989. "Debt Relief and Adjustment Incentives in a Financially Open Economy: Comment on Corden," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(2), pages 514-522, June.
  9. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
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