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On The Sustainability of External Debt: Is Debt Relief Enough?


  • Annalisa Prizzon

    (Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods, University of Pavia, and OECD)

  • Gianni Vaggi

    (Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods, University of Pavia)


Elaborating on PAsinetti (1998), the 'Geometry of Debt Sustainability' - GDS - represents a simple analytical tool for the analysis of the long run sustainability of foreign debt. GDS provides a simple analysis of three aspects of debt sustainability. It points up how the 'structural' aspect - NICA, the non-interest current account - is closely interlinked with the purely 'financial' aspect. The paper focuses on low income countries, LICs, which face several daunting tasks at once: economic growth, human development and regular debt service. Therefore GDS is also used to analyse the 'human development' aspect of debt sustainability. By considering the three aspects together it emerges that there might be a very stringent trade-off between regular debt service and human development expenditures. All the more so because mosto LICs suffer from structural NICA deficits and GDS highlights the fact its improvement is a anecessary condition to achieve long-run debt sustainability. However, export diversification and the building of stronger trading capacities take time. GDS shows why both debt cancellation and additional aid are necessary to give indebted low income economies a chance to improve both human development and long-run economic viability.

Suggested Citation

  • Annalisa Prizzon & Gianni Vaggi, 2009. "On The Sustainability of External Debt: Is Debt Relief Enough?," Quaderni di Dipartimento 094, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods.
  • Handle: RePEc:pav:wpaper:094

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher L. Gilbert & Alexandra Tabova, 2005. "Can we link concessional debt service to commodity prices?," Department of Economics Working Papers 0508, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    2. Cohen, Daniel & Fally, Thibault & Villemot, Sébastien, 2006. "In Favour of a Fund to Stabilize Commodity Exporters' Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5550, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clara Capelli & Gianni Vaggi, 2014. "Why Gross National Disposable Income should substitute Gross National Income," DEM Working Papers Series 091, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    2. Charles, Sebastien & Dallery, Thomas, 2013. "L’expiation par l’austérité ou la stratégie de l’échec : une interprétation post-keynésienne de la crise des pays périphériques en zone euro
      [Expiation through austerity or the strategy of failure:
      ," MPRA Paper 65735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Clara Capelli & Gianni Vaggi, 2013. "A better indicator of standards of living: The Gross National Disposable Income," DEM Working Papers Series 062, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.

    More about this item


    debt relief; external debt sustainability; development finance.;

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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