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Sovereign Debt Portfolios, Bond Risks, and the Credibility of Monetary Policy

Listed author(s):
  • Wenxin Du
  • Carolin E. Pflueger
  • Jesse Schreger

Nominal debt provides consumption-smoothing benefits if it can be inflated away during recessions. However, we document empirically that countries with more countercyclical inflation, where nominal debt provides better consumption-smoothing, issue more foreign-currency debt. We propose that monetary policy credibility explains the currency composition of sovereign debt and nominal bond risks in the presence of risk-averse investors. In our model, low credibility governments inflate during recessions, generating excessively countercyclical inflation in addition to the standard inflationary bias. With countercyclical inflation, investors require risk premia on nominal debt, making nominal debt issuance costly for low credibility governments. We provide empirical support for this mechanism, showing that countries with higher nominal bond-stock betas have significantly larger nominal bond risk premia and borrow less in local currency.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 22592.

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Date of creation: Sep 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22592
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  1. Jeremy J. Siegel, 1972. "Risk, Interest Rates and the Forward Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(2), pages 303-309.
  2. Niemann, Stefan & Pichler, Paul & Sorger, Gerhard, 2013. "Public debt, discretionary policy, and inflation persistence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1097-1109.
  3. Brandt, Michael W. & Cochrane, John H. & Santa-Clara, Pedro, 2006. "International risk sharing is better than you think, or exchange rates are too smooth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 671-698, May.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Carolin Pflueger & Luis M. Viceira, 2013. "Monetary Policy Drivers of Bond and Equity Risks," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-031, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2015.
  5. Bohn, Henning, 1990. "A positive theory of foreign currency debt," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3-4), pages 273-292, November.
  6. Jesse Schreger & Wenxin Du, 2014. "Sovereign Risk, Currency Risk, and Corporate Balance Sheets," Working Paper 209056, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  7. Joel M. David & Espen Henriksen & Ina Simonovska, 2014. "The Risky Capital of Emerging Markets," NBER Working Papers 20769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Araujo, Aloisio & Leon, Marcia & Santos, Rafael, 2013. "Welfare analysis of currency regimes with defaultable debts," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 143-153.
  9. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-574, May.
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