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Currency Mismatches, Debt Intolerance and Original Sin: Why They Are Not the Same and Why it Matters

  • Barry Eichengreen
  • Ricardo Hausmann
  • Ugo Panizza

Recent years have seen the development of a large literature on balance sheet factors in emerging-market financial crises. In this paper we discuss three concepts widely used in this literature. Two of them original sin' and debt intolerance' seek to explain the same phenomenon, namely, the volatility of emerging-market economies and the difficulty these countries have in servicing and repaying their debts. The debt-intolerance school traces the problem to institutional weaknesses of emerging-market economies that lead to weak and unreliable policies, while the original-sin school traces the problem instead to the structure of global portfolios and international financial markets. The literature on currency mismatches, in contrast, is concerned with the consequences of these problems and with how they are managed by the macroeconomic and financial authorities. Thus, the hypotheses and problems to which these three terms refer are analytically distinct. The tendency to use them synonymously has been an unnecessary source of confusion.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10036.

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Date of creation: Oct 2003
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Publication status: published as Collier, Paul an Jan Willem Gunning (eds.) Globalization and Poverty. Volume 1. What Has Happened? Volume 2. What Are the Channels of Transmission? Volume 3. Policy Responses. Volume 2. Elgar Reference Collection. Globalization of the World Economy series, vol. 19. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, MA: Elgar, 2008.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10036
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  1. Morris Goldstein, 1998. "The Asian Financial Crisis," Policy Briefs PB98-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  2. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann, 1999. "Exchange rates and financial fragility," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 329-368.
  3. Bayoumi, Tamim & Eichengreen, Barry, 1998. "Exchange Rate Volatility and Intervention: Implications of the Theory of Optimum Currency Areas," CEPR Discussion Papers 1982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
  5. John D. Burger & Francis E. Warnock, 2003. "Diversification, original sin, and international bond portfolios," International Finance Discussion Papers 755, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  13. Hausmann, Ricardo & Panizza, Ugo, 2003. "On the determinants of Original Sin: an empirical investigation," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 957-990, December.
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  18. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Aggregating governance indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2195, The World Bank.
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  22. repec:rus:hseeco:123922 is not listed on IDEAS
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