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Optimal Sovereign Default

  • Adam, Klaus
  • Grill, Michael

When is it optimal for a government to default on its legal repayment oblig- ations? We answer this question for a small open economy with domestic production risk in which the government optimally finances itself by issuing non-contingent debt. We show that Ramsey optimal policies occasionally devi- ate from the legal repayment obligation and repay debt only partially, even if such deviations give rise to significant default costs. Optimal default improves the international diversification of domestic output risk, increases the efficiency of domestic investment and - for a wide range of default costs - significantly increases welfare relative to a situation where default is simply ruled out from Ramsey optimal plans. We show analytically that default is optimal following adverse shocks to domestic output, especially for very negative international wealth positions. A quantitative analysis reveals that for empirically plausible wealth levels, default is optimal only in response to disaster-like shocks to do- mestic output, and that default can be Ramsey optimal even if the net foreign asset position is positive.

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Paper provided by University of Mannheim, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 12-16.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:mnh:wpaper:32508
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  2. Cruces, Juan J. & Trebesch, Christoph, 2013. "Sovereign defaults: The price of haircuts," Munich Reprints in Economics 20036, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  10. Manuel S. Santos, 2000. "Accuracy of Numerical Solutions using the Euler Equation Residuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1377-1402, November.
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  12. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2001. "Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1304R5, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2004.
  13. Francois Gourio, 2012. "Disaster Risk and Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2734-66, October.
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  15. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Fiscal consequences for Mexico of adopting the dollar," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 597-625.
  16. Michael Grill & Johannes Brumm, 2010. "Computing Equilibria in Dynamic Models with Occasionally Binding Constraints," 2010 Meeting Papers 695, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Zame, William R, 1993. "Efficiency and the Role of Default When Security Markets Are Incomplete," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1142-64, December.
  18. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
  19. Ugo Panizza & Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2009. "The Economics and Law of Sovereign Debt and Default," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 651-98, September.
  20. Rietz, Thomas A., 1988. "The equity risk premium a solution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 117-131, July.
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