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Dollarization of Liabilities: Underinsurance and Domestic Financial Underdevelopment

  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Arvind Krishnamurthy

While there is still much disagreement on the causes underlying recent emerging markets' crises, one factor that most observers have agreed upon is that contracting dollar' (foreign currency) denominated external debt as opposed to domestic currency debt created balance sheet mismatches that led to bankruptcies and dislocations that amplified downturns. Much of the analysis of the currency-balance sheet channel' hinges on the assumption that companies contract dollar denominated debt. Yet there has been little systematic inquiry into why companies must or choose to take on dollar debt. In this paper we cast the problem as one of microeconomic underinsurance with respect to country-wide aggregate shocks. Denominating external debt in domestic currency is equivalent to contracting the same amount of dollar-debt, complemented with insurance against shocks that depreciate the equilibrium exchange rate. The presence of country-level international financial constraints justify the purchase of such insurance even if all agents are risk neutral. However, if domestic financial constraints also exist, domestics will undervalue the social contribution of contracting insurance against country-wide shocks. Foreign lenders will reinforce the underinsurance problem by reducing their participation in domestic financial markets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7792.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7792
Note: EFG IFM CF
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  1. Paul Krugman, 1999. "Balance Sheets, the Transfer Problem, and Financial Crises," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 459-472, November.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2000. "International Liquidity Management: Sterilization Policy in Illiquid Financial Markets," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1700, Econometric Society.
  3. Roberto Chang & Andres Velasco, 1999. "Liquidity crises in emerging markets: Theory and policy," Working Paper 99-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  4. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1996. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 5817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit & Bacchetta, Philippe & Aghion, Philippe, 2001. "Currency Crises and Monetary Policy in an Economy with Credit Constraints," Scholarly Articles 4554218, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Kenneth A. Froot & Paul G.J. O'Connell, . "On the Pricing of Intermediated Risks: Theory and Application to Catastrophe Reinsurance," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-24, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1999. "Hedging and financial fragility in fixed exchange rate regimes," Working Paper Series WP-99-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1994. "Limited Market Participation and Volatility of Asset Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 933-55, September.
  9. Michael P. Dooley, 1997. "A Model of Crises in Emerging Markets," NBER Working Papers 6300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 2000. "Optimal currency crises," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 177-230, December.
  11. Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto H. Stein, 2000. "Why Do Countries Float the Way They Float?," Research Department Publications 4205, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. Ricardo Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 1999. "Emerging Market Crises: An Asset Markets Perspective," Working papers 99-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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