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Conditionality, Debt Relief, and the Developing Country Debt Crisis

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  • Jeffrey Sachs

Abstract

This paper raises several cautionary notes regarding high-conditionality lending by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the context of international debt crisis. It is argued that the role for high-conditionality lending is more restricted than generally believed, because enforcement of conditionality is rather weak. Moreover, the incentives for a country to abide by conditionality terms are also likely to be reduced by a large overhang of external indebtedness. Given the limited ability to enforce conditionality agreements, modesty and realism should be a cornerstone of each program. The experience with conditionality suggests two major lessons for the design of high-conditionality lending. First, debt forgiveness rather than mere debt rescheduling may increase a debtor country's compliance with conditionality, and thereby increase the actual stream of repayments by the indebted countries. Second, given the complexity of the needed adjustments, and the difficulty of enforcing conditionality agreements, programs are most likely to be successful when macroeconomic stabilization is given priority over large-scale liberalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "Conditionality, Debt Relief, and the Developing Country Debt Crisis," NBER Working Papers 2644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2644
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2644.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey Sachs & Daniel Cohen, 1982. "LDC Borrowing with Default Risk," NBER Working Papers 0925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Balassa, Bela, 1984. "Adjustment policies in developing countries: A reassessment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 12(9), pages 955-972, September.
    3. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Rational and Self-fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 72-81, March.
    4. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1985. "External Debt and Macroeconomic Performance in Latin America and East Asia," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 523-573.
    5. Corbo, Vittorio & De Melo, Jaime, 1985. "Overview and summary," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(8), pages 863-866, August.
    6. Krugman, Paul, 1988. "Financing vs. forgiving a debt overhang," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 253-268, November.
    7. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1987. "Trade and Exchange Rate Policies in Growth-Oriented Adjustment Programs," NBER Working Papers 2226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. von Furstenberg, George M., 1985. "Adjustment with IMF lending," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 209-222, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Edwards, 1989. "On the Sequencing of Structural Reforms," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 70, OECD Publishing.
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4089 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Froot, Kenneth A, 1989. "Buybacks, Exit Bonds, and the Optimality of Debt and Liquidity Relief," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(1), pages 49-70, February.
    4. Joshua Aizenman & Eduardo R. Borensztein, 1989. "Strategic Investment in a Debt Bargaining Framework," NBER Working Papers 3019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Pierre Mella-Barral, 1996. "The Dynamics of Corporate Debt forgiveness and Contract Renegotiation," FMG Discussion Papers dp230, Financial Markets Group.
    6. Almuth Scholl, 2013. "Debt Relief for Poor Countries: Conditionality and Effectiveness," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-23, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    7. Blackman, Allen & Nelson, Per-Kristian & Mathis, Mitchell, 2001. "The Greening of Development Economics: A Survey," Discussion Papers dp-01-08, Resources For the Future.

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