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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.

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

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11472
Note: DAE IFM
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  2. Paolo Mauro & Yishay Yafeh, 2003. "The Corporation of Foreign Bondholders," IMF Working Papers 03/107, International Monetary Fund.
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  5. 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.
  6. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2004. "Serial default and the “paradox” of rich to poor capital flows," MPRA Paper 13997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. 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.
  8. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Scholarly Articles 12491028, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Andrew K. Rose, 2002. "One Reason Countries Pay Their Debts: Renegotiation and International Trade," Working Papers 042002, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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  17. Lopez-Cordova, J. Ernesto & Meissner, Chris, 2000. "Exchange-Rate Regimes and International Trade: Evidence from the Classical Gold Standard Era," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt1b04r034, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2004. "Empire, Public Goods, and the Roosevelt Corollary," NBER Working Papers 10729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
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