IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Supersanctions and Sovereign Debt Repayment

  • Kris James Mitchener
  • Marc D. Weidenmier

Theoretical models have suggested that sanctions may be important for enforcing sovereign debt contracts (Bulow and Rogoff, 1989a, 1989b). This paper examines the role of sanctions in promoting debt repayment during the classical gold standard period. We analyze a wide range of sanctions including gunboat diplomacy, external fiscal control over a country's finances, asset seizures by private creditors, and trade sanctions. We find that "supersanctions," instances where military pressure or political control were applied in response to default, were an important and commonly used enforcement mechanism from 1870-1913. Following the implementation of supersanctions, on average, ex ante default probabilities on new debt issues fell by more than 60 percent, yield spreads declined approximately 800 basis points, and defaulting countries experienced almost a 100 percent reduction of time spent in default. We also find that debt defaulters that surrendered their fiscal sovereignty for an extended period of time were able to issue large amounts of new debt on international capital markets. Consistent with policies advocated by Caballero and Dornbusch (2002) for Argentina, our results suggest that third-party enforcement mechanisms, with the authority to enact financial and fiscal reforms, may be beneficial for resuscitating the capital market reputation of sovereign defaulters.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11472.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11472
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jonathan Eaton & Raquel Fernandez, 1995. "Sovereign Debt," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 59, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/607 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Michele Fratianni, 2006. "Government Debt, Reputation and Creditors’ Protections: The Tale of San Giorgio," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 10(4), pages 487-506, December.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  5. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 2004. "Serial Default and the “Paradox†of Rich-to-Poor Capital Flows," Scholarly Articles 11129182, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Rose, Andrew K, 2002. "One Reason Countries Pay Their Debts: Renegotiation and International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 3157, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2004. "Empire, Public Goods, and the Roosevelt Corollary," NBER Working Papers 10729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 389-428, June.
  9. Jeremy A.Rogoff Bulow & Kenneth, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 43, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  10. Marc Flandreau & Mathilde Maurel, 2005. "Monetary Union, Trade Integration, and Business Cycles in 19th Century Europe," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 135-152, April.
  11. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
  12. 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 259-75, March.
  13. Jeremy Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1998. "Sovereign Debt: Is to Forgive to Forget," Levine's Working Paper Archive 209, David K. Levine.
  14. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  15. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2004. "Serial default and the “paradox” of rich to poor capital flows," MPRA Paper 13997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Christopher M. Meissner, 2002. "A New World Order: Explaining the Emergence of the Classical Gold Standard," NBER Working Papers 9233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Martinez, Jose Vicente & Sandleris, Guido, 2011. "Is it punishment? Sovereign defaults and the decline in trade," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 909-930, October.
  18. Peter H. Lindert & Peter J. Morton, 1989. "How Sovereign Debt Has Worked," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 225-236 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Peter H. Lindert & Peter J. Morton, 1989. "How Sovereign Debt Has Worked," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages 39-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Christopher M. Meissner, 2003. "Exchange-Rate Regimes and International Trade: Evidence from the Classical Gold Standard Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 344-353, March.
  20. Bordo Michael D. & Kydland Finn E., 1995. "The Gold Standard As a Rule: An Essay in Exploration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 423-464, October.
  21. Paolo Mauro & Yishay Yafeh, 2003. "The Corporation of Foreign Bondholders," IMF Working Papers 03/107, International Monetary Fund.
  22. Lance Davis & Stanley Engerman, 2003. "History Lessons: Sanctions - Neither War nor Peace," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 187-197, Spring.
  23. Flandreau, Marc & Maurel, Mathilde, 2001. "Monetary Union, Trade Integration, and Business Cycles in 19th Century Europe: Just Do It," CEPR Discussion Papers 3087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. repec:kap:eurfin:v:10:y:2006:i:4:p:487-506 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, 2004. "The Empire Effect: The Determinants of Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880-1913," Working Papers 04-03, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11472. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.