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External Debt, Capital Flight and Political Risk

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation of the simultaneous occurrence of large accumulation of external debt, private capital outflow and relatively low domestic capital formation in developing countries. We consider a general equilibrium model in which two types of government with conflicting distributional goals randomly alternate in office. Uncertainty over the fiscal policies of future governments generates private capital flight and small domestic investment. This political uncertainty also provides the incentives for the current government to over accumulate external debt. The model also predicts that left wing governments are more inclined to impose restrictions on capital outflows than right wing governments. Finally, we examine how political uncertainty affects the risk premium charged by lenders and how debt repudiation may occur after a change of political regime.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1988. "External Debt, Capital Flight and Political Risk," NBER Working Papers 2610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2610
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    1. Eaton, Jonathan, 1987. "Public Debt Guarantees and Private Capital Flight," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 1(3), pages 377-395, May.
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    6. Alberto Alesina, 1987. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt in a Democracy," UCLA Economics Working Papers 435, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1989. "Debt Problems and the World Macroeconomy," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages 331-358 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Grossman, Herschel I & Van Huyck, John B, 1988. "Sovereign Debt as a Contingent Claim: Excusable Default, Repudiation, and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1088-1097, December.
    10. R. Dornbusch, 1984. "External Debt, Budget Deficits and Disequilibrium Exchange Rates," Working papers 347, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    11. Berg, Andrew & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1988. "The debt crisis structural explanations of country performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-306, November.
    12. Alain Ize & Guillermo Ortiz, 1987. "Fiscal Rigidities, Public Debt, and Capital Flight," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(2), pages 311-332, June.
    13. Rudiger Dornbusch & Juan Carlos de Pablo, 1987. "Argentina: Debt and Macroeconomic Instability," NBER Working Papers 2378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
    15. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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