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The Welfare Economics of Debt Service

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  • Dani Rodrik

Abstract

This paper analyzes some of the implications of the dual transfer a debtor nation must undertake to service foreign debt: (a) an internal transfer from the private sector to the public sector; and (b) an external transfer from the domestic economy to foreign creditors. It shows that, under likely circumstances, a real depreciation of the home currency may complicate the internal transfer. As long as non-traded goods are a net source of revenue for the government, the depreciation called for by debt service deteriorates the public sector's terms of trade vis-a-vis the private sector and magnifies the requisite fiscal retrenchment. The paper discusses the role of trade policy (tariffs and export subsidies) in substituting for devaluation. Generating a private-sector surplus via interest-rate policy is shown to have similar costs on the government budget when the public sector has outstanding domestic debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Dani Rodrik, 1988. "The Welfare Economics of Debt Service," NBER Working Papers 2655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2655
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    1. Jones, Ronald W. & Peter Neary, J., 1984. "The positive theory of international trade," Handbook of International Economics,in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 1-62 Elsevier.
    2. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1985. "Policy and Performance Links between LDC Debtors and Industrial Nations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 303-368.
    3. Sebastian Edwards, 1989. "Structural Adjustment Policies in Highly Indebted Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 249-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cohen, Daniel, 1988. "The Management of the Developing Countries' Debt: Guidelines and Applications to Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(1), pages 77-103, January.
    5. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1987. "Trade and Exchange Rate Policies in Growth-Oriented Adjustment Programs," NBER Working Papers 2226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Svensson, Lars E O & Razin, Assaf, 1983. "The Terms of Trade and the Current Account: The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 97-125, February.
    7. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Faini, Riccardo & De Melo, Jaime & Senhadji-Semlali, Abdel & Stanton, Julie, 1989. "Macro performance under adjustment lending," Policy Research Working Paper Series 190, The World Bank.
    2. Devarajan, Shantayanan & de Melo, Jaime, 1990. "Membership in the CFA zone : Odyssean journey or Trojan horse?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 482, The World Bank.

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