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The cost of defaults: the impact of haircuts on economic growth


  • Silvia Marchesi
  • Valeria Prato


This paper studies the impact of debt default on economic growth taking into account the depth of a debt restructuring. More specifically, creditors' losses (or haircuts) are used as proxies of the severity of the default episodes. Analyzing 89 defaults in 72 countries over the period 1979-2005, consistently with previous results in this literature, we find that defaults have a negative and significant impact on short-term output growth. Moreover, controlling for the severity of the default through the haircut's size, we find that the severity of the default is indeed correlated with a further contraction in output one year after the default and with a positive increase in output three years after the default. Therefore, the use of a variable which is taken as a proxy of the severity of the default episode allows us to detect a more lasting (and eventually positive) effect of debt default on growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Marchesi & Valeria Prato, 2013. "The cost of defaults: the impact of haircuts on economic growth," Working Papers 265, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:265

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Yeyati, Eduardo Levy & Panizza, Ugo, 2011. "The elusive costs of sovereign defaults," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 95-105, January.
    5. Cole, Harold L & Dow, James & English, William B, 1995. "Default, Settlement, and Signalling: Lending Resumption in a Reputational Model of Sovereign Debt," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 365-385, May.
    6. Eduardo Borensztein & Ugo Panizza, 2009. "The Costs of Sovereign Default," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(4), pages 683-741, November.
    7. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "Sovereign Debt: Is to Forgive to Forget?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 43-50, March.
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    9. Sturzenegger, Federico & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2008. "Haircuts: Estimating investor losses in sovereign debt restructurings, 1998-2005," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 780-805, September.
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    11. Rose, Andrew K., 2005. "One reason countries pay their debts: renegotiation and international trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 189-206, June.
    12. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
    13. Juan J. Cruces & Christoph Trebesch, 2013. "Sovereign Defaults: The Price of Haircuts," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 85-117, July.
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    15. English, William B, 1996. "Understanding the Costs of Sovereign Default: American State Debts in the 1840's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 259-275, March.
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    More about this item


    Haircuts; Output losses; Sovereign defaults;

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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