Are Indexed Bonds a Remedy for Sudden Stops?
Recent policy proposals call for setting up a benchmark indexed bond market to prevent "Sudden Stops". This paper analyzes the macroeconomic implications of these bonds using a general equilibrium model of a small open economy with financial frictions. In the absence of indexed bonds, negative shocks to productivity or to the terms of trade trigger Sudden Stops through a debt-deflation mechanism. This paper establishes that whether indexed bonds can help to prevent Sudden Stops depends on the "degree of indexation", or the percentage of the shock reflected in the return. Quantitative analysis calibrated to a typical emerging economy suggests that indexation can improve macroeconomic conditions only if the level of indexation is less than a critical value due to the imperfect nature of the hedge provided by these bonds. When indexation is higher than this critical value (as with full-indexation), "natural debt limits" become tighter, leading to higher precautionary savings. The increase in the volatility of the trade balance that accompanies the introduction of indexed bonds outweighs the improvement in the covariance of the trade balance with income, increasing consumption volatility. Additionally, we find that at high levels of indexation, the borrowing constraint can become suddenly binding following a positive shock, triggering a debt-deflation.
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