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Interest Rate Uncertainty and Sovereign Default Risk

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  • Alok Johri
  • Shahed Khan
  • Cesar Sosa-Padilla

Abstract

International data suggests that fluctuations in the level and volatility of the world interest rate (as measured by the US treasury bill rate) are positively correlated with both the level and volatility of sovereign spreads in emerging economies. We incorporate an estimated time-varying process for the world interest rate into a model of sovereign default calibrated to a panel of emerging economies. Time variation in the world interest rate interacts with default incentives in the model and leads to state contingent effects on borrowing and sovereign spreads which resemble those found in the data. The model delivers up to one-half of the positive comovement between the level and volatility of world interest rate and the level of sovereign spreads seen in emerging economies. Moreover, the model also delivers significant positive co-movements between the volatility of the spread and the process for the world interest rate which is also consistent with the data. Our model provides one potential source for the observed bunching in default probabilities observed across nations, namely the world interest rate process. Our model generates a positive and significant correlation (0.51) between the spreads of two nations with uncorrelated income processes. This is close to the observed mean correlation in the data (0.61).

Suggested Citation

  • Alok Johri & Shahed Khan & Cesar Sosa-Padilla, 2020. "Interest Rate Uncertainty and Sovereign Default Risk," Department of Economics Working Papers 2020-13, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2020-13
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    2. Javier Bianchi & Cesar Sosa-Padilla, 2018. "Reserve Accumulation, Macroeconomic Stabilization and Sovereign Risk," 2018 Meeting Papers 1166, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Sosa-Padilla, César & Sturzenegger, Federico, 2023. "Does it matter how central banks accumulate reserves? Evidence from sovereign spreads," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    4. Reyes-Heroles, Ricardo & Tenorio, Gabriel, 2019. "Regime-switching in emerging market business cycles: Interest rate volatility and sudden stops," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 81-100.
    5. Grace Weishi Gu & Zachary R. Stangebye, 2023. "Costly Information And Sovereign Risk," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1397-1429, November.
    6. de Ferra, Sergio & Mallucci, Enrico, 2022. "Sovereign risk matters: Endogenous default risk and the time-varying volatility of interest rate spreads," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    7. Gonzalez-Aguado, Eugenia, 2022. "Interest Rate Shocks and the Composition of Sovereign Debt," TSE Working Papers 22-1379, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    8. Mohsin Waheed & Zulfiqar Hyder, 2023. "What Explains the Volatility in Pakistan’s Sovereign Bond Yields?," SBP Working Paper Series 112, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sovereign Debt; Sovereign Default; Interest Rate Spread; Time-varying Volatility; Uncertainty Shocks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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