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The Role of Foreign Currency Debt in Financial Crises: 1880-1913 vs. 1972-1997

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Christopher M. Meissner

Abstract

What is the role of foreign currency debt in precipitating financial crises? In this paper we compare the 1880 to 1913 period to recent experience. We examine debt crises, currency crises, banking crises and the interrelation between these varieties of crises. We pay special attention to the role of hard currency debt, currency mismatches and debt intolerance. We find fairly robust evidence that high exposure to foreign currency debt does not necessarily lead to a high chance of having a debt crisis, currency crisis, or a banking crisis. A key finding is some countries do not suffer from great financial fragility despite high exposure to original sin. In the nineteenth century, the British offshoots and Scandinavia generally avoided severe financial meltdowns while today many advanced countries have high original sin but have had few financial crises. The common denominator in both periods is that currency mismatches matter. A strong reserve position or high exports relative to hard currency liabilities helps decrease the likelihood of a debt crisis, currency crisis or a banking crisis. This strengthens the evidence for the hypothesis that foreign currency debt is dangerous when mis-managed. We discuss the robustness of these results and make some general comparisons based on this evidence from over 60 years of intense international capital market integration.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Christopher M. Meissner, 2005. "The Role of Foreign Currency Debt in Financial Crises: 1880-1913 vs. 1972-1997," NBER Working Papers 11897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11897
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    18. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher Meissner & Angela Redish, 2003. "How "Original Sin" was Overcome: The Evolution of External Debt Denominated in Domestic Currencies in the United States and the British Dominions," NBER Working Papers 9841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael D. Bordo & John S. Landon-Lane, 2010. "The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08: Is it Unprecedented?," NBER Working Papers 16589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Karatas, B., 2014. "Financial crisis and monetary policy," Other publications TiSEM 41e463f0-e122-4379-8db5-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    3. Jeanneret, Alexandre & Souissi, Slim, 2016. "Sovereign defaults by currency denomination," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 197-222.
    4. Marcel Fratzscher & Arnaud Mehl & Isabel Vansteenkiste, 2011. "130 Years of Fiscal Vulnerabilities and Currency Crashes in Advanced Economies," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(4), pages 683-716, November.
    5. Carlo Galli & Marco Bassetto, 2016. "Is Inflation Default? The Role of Information in Debt Crises," 2016 Meeting Papers 308, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Michael D Bordo & Christopher M Meissner & Marc D Weidenmier, 2006. "Currency Mismatches, Default Risk, and Exchange Rate Depreciation: Evidence from the End of Bimetallism," WEF Working Papers 0010, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
    7. Sophia Lazaretou, 2011. "Financial crises and financial market regulation: the long record of an ‘emerger’," Working Papers 140, Bank of Greece.
    8. Carrera, Claudia Martínez & Vergara, Rodrigo, 2012. "Fiscal Sustainability: The Impact of Real Exchange Rate Shocks on Debt Valuation, Interest Rates and GDP Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1762-1783.
    9. Davide Furceri & Aleksandra Zdzienicka, 2012. "The Consequences of Banking Crises for Public Debt," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 289-307, December.
    10. Nahed Zghidi & Zouheir Abida, 2014. "Financial Development, Trade Openness and Economic Growth in North African Countries," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 17(53), pages 91-120, September.
    11. Chiţu, Livia, 2012. "Was unofficial dollarisation/euroisation an amplifier of the 'Great Recession' of 2007-09 in emerging economies," Working Paper Series 1473, European Central Bank.
    12. Bordo, Michael & Hargreaves, David & Kida, Mizuho, 2011. "Global shocks, economic growth and financial crises: 120 years of New Zealand experience," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(03), pages 331-355, December.
    13. Bordo, Michael D. & Meissner, Christopher M. & Stuckler, David, 2010. "Foreign currency debt, financial crises and economic growth: A long-run view," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 642-665, June.
    14. repec:eee:macchp:v2-355 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. della Paolera, Gerardo & Taylor, Alan M., 2013. "Sovereign debt in Latin America, 1820-1913," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(02), pages 173-217, September.
    16. Livia Chitu, 2013. "Was Unofficial Dollarisation/Euroisation an Amplifier of the ‘Great Recession’ of 2007–2009 in Emerging Economies?," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 55(2), pages 233-265, June.
    17. Abida Zouheir & Imen Mohamed Sghaier, 2014. "Remittances, Financial Development and Economic Growth: The Case of North African Countries," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 17(51), pages 137-170, March.
    18. Charles Amo Yartey, 2012. "Barbados; Sectoral Balance Sheet Mismatches and Macroeconomic Vulnerabilities," IMF Working Papers 12/31, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 2013. "Banking crises: An equal opportunity menace," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4557-4573.
    20. Anna Ilyina & Anastasia Guscina & Herman Kamil, 2010. "Does Procyclical Fiscal Policy Reinforce Incentives to Dollarize Sovereign Debt?," IMF Working Papers 10/168, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher M. Meissner, 2016. "Fiscal and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 22059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Karatas, Bilge, 2013. "Three Sisters: The Interlinkage between Sovereign Debt, Currency and Banking Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 9369, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. repec:eee:ecmode:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:18-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Zouheir Abida & Imen Mohamed Sghaier & Nahed Zghidi, 2015. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Evidence from North African Countries," Economic Alternatives, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria, issue 2, pages 17-33, April.
    25. Marcelin, Isaac & Mathur, Ike, 2016. "Financial sector development and dollarization in emerging economies," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 20-32.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance

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