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Sovereign Debt, Reputation, and Credit Terms

  • Jonathan Eaton

I develop a model in which sovereign debtors repay debt in order to maintain a reputation for repayment. Repayment gives creditors reason to think that the debtor will suffer adverse consequences if it defaults, so they continue to lend. I compare a situation in which competitive lenders earn a zero profit on each loan with one in which they can make long-term commitments to individual borrowers, so that the zero-profit condition applies only in the long run. In many circumstances a borrower benefits, ex ante, if lenders commit to denying credit to a borrower in default even if at that point a subsequent loan is profitable. Furthermore, a "debt overhang," while possibly altering credit terms, does not cause profitable investment opportunities to go unexploited.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3424.

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Date of creation: Aug 1990
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as International Journal of Finance and Economics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.25-35 (January 1996).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3424
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1983. "Incentive Effects of Terminations: Applications to the Credit and Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 912-27, December.
  2. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1988. "Sovereign Debt: Is To Forgive To Forget?," NBER Working Papers 2623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harold L. Cole & James Dow & William B. English, 1994. "Default, settlement, and signalling: lending resumption in a reputational model of sovereign debt," Staff Report 180, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Working Papers 1894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Timothy J Kehoe & David K Levine, 1993. "Debt Constrained Asset Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1276, David K. Levine.
  6. Andrew Atkeson, 2010. "International lending with moral hazard and risk of repudiation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 200, David K. Levine.
  7. 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 1088-97, December.
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