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Hope springs eternal: French bondholders and the Soviet repudiation (1915-1919)


  • John Landon-Lane
  • Kim Oosterlinck


By their extreme nature, repudiations rarely occur. History is therefore crucial to analyze their impact on bond prices. This paper provides an empirical study based on an original database: prices of a Tsarist bond traded in Paris before and after its repudiation by the Soviets. A structural vector autoregression is used to identify shocks to this bond that are orthogonal to shocks hitting a proxy for the Paris bond market, the French 3% rente. French market shocks are thus disentangled from repudiation specific shocks hitting the Russian bond. Consistent with expectations no major Russian shocks appears before the 1917 revolution. For 1918, shocks are mainly related with bailouts or hopes of partial bailouts. In 1919, however, the nature of shocks changes as they can be explained either by the negotiations with the Soviets or by the fate of the White Armies. In view of these elements, we argue that the bonds’ value were subject to a “Peso problem”. Their prices essentially reflected expected extreme events that never took place.

Suggested Citation

  • John Landon-Lane & Kim Oosterlinck, 2005. "Hope springs eternal: French bondholders and the Soviet repudiation (1915-1919)," Working Papers CEB 05-013.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:05-013

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vidovics-Dancs, Ágnes, 2014. "Az államcsőd költségei régen és ma
      [Costs of sovereign defaults now and long ago]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(3), pages 262-278.
    2. Waldenström, Daniel, 2010. "Why does sovereign risk differ for domestic and external debt? Evidence from Scandinavia, 1938-1948," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 387-402, April.
    3. Xavier De Scheemaekere & Kim Oosterlinck & Ariane Szafarz, 2014. "Issues in Identifying Economic Crises: Insights from History," Working Papers CEB 14-014, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Tobias A. Jopp, 2014. "How did the capital market evaluate Germany’s prospects for winning World War I? Evidence from the Amsterdam market for government bonds," Working Papers 0052, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Bernal, Oscar & Oosterlinck, Kim & Szafarz, Ariane, 2010. "Observing bailout expectations during a total eclipse of the sun," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1193-1205, November.
    6. Kim Oosterlinck & Loredana Ureche-Rangau, 2008. "Multiple Potential Payers and Sovereign Bond Prices," Finance, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, vol. 29(1), pages 31-52.
    7. Jopp, Tobias A., 2017. "How does the public perceive alliances? The Central and Allied Powers in World War I," IBF Paper Series 12-17, IBF – Institut für Bank- und Finanzgeschichte / Institute for Banking and Financial History, Frankfurt am Main.
    8. Daniel Waldenstrom & Bruno S. Frey, 2006. "Using Markets to Measure Pre-War Threat Assessments: The Nordic Countries facing World War II," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-27, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Mitchener, Kris James & Oosterlinck, Kim & Weidenmier, Marc D. & Haber, Stephen, 2015. "Victory or repudiation? Predicting winners in civil wars using international financial markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 310-319.
    10. Foley-Fisher, Nathan & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2016. "Sovereign debt guarantees and default: Lessons from the UK and Ireland, 1920–1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 272-286.
    11. Kim Oosterlinck, 2013. "Sovereign debt defaults: insights from history," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-714, WINTER.
    12. Xavier De Scheemaekere & Kim Oosterlinck & Ariane Szafarz, 2012. "Addressing Economic Crises: The Reference-Class Problem," Working Papers CEB 12-024, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    13. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7874 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    repudiation; sovereign debt; secession; Russia; Soviet; war; country break-up.;

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-

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