IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Has the Legal Threat to Sovereign Debt Restructuring Become Real?


  • Federico Sturzenegger and Jeromin Zettelmeyer


The existence of sovereign debt relies on the ability of creditors to impose costs on defaulting debtors. In their seminal contribution Eaton and Gersovitz (1981) began the modern literature on sovereign debt by assuming that creditors could not impose sanctions but could exclude debtor countries from international capital markets. This piece was followed by a large literature that attempted to weaken its assumptions. However, as a result of changes in the law as well as from the development of new legal strategies, during the last thirty years the possibilities for creditor actions against sovereigns have improved significantly. This survey reviews the evidence from recent litigation practice and discusses whether this requires a change in our understanding of sovereign debt markets. Our conclusion is that the original assumptions of Eaton and Gersovitz (1981) hold surprisingly well.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Sturzenegger and Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2006. "Has the Legal Threat to Sovereign Debt Restructuring Become Real?," Business School Working Papers legalthreat, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  • Handle: RePEc:udt:wpbsdt:legalthreat

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter H. Lindert & Peter J. Morton, 1989. "How Sovereign Debt Has Worked," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages 39-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Eduardo Borensztein & Olivier D Jeanne & Paolo Mauro & Jeronimo Zettelmeyer & Marcos Chamon, 2005. "Sovereign Debt Structure for Crisis Prevention," IMF Occasional Papers 237, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
    4. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "Sovereign Debt: Is to Forgive to Forget?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 43-50, March.
    5. Eaton, Jonathan, 1996. "Sovereign Debt, Reputation and Credit Terms," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 25-35, January.
    6. Cole, Harold L. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1995. "The role of institutions in reputation models of sovereign debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 45-64, February.
    7. Bolton, Patrick & Jeanne, Olivier, 2005. "Structuring and Restructuring Sovereign Debt: The Role of Seniority," CEPR Discussion Papers 4901, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Sturzenegger, Federico & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2008. "Haircuts: Estimating investor losses in sovereign debt restructurings, 1998-2005," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 780-805, September.
    9. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
    10. Sandleris, Guido, 2008. "Sovereign defaults: Information, investment and credit," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 267-275, December.
    11. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1991. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 391-435 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Manmohan Singh, 2003. "Recovery Rates From Distressed Debt; Empirical Evidence From Chapter 11 Filings, International Litigation, and Recent Sovereign Debt Restructurings," IMF Working Papers 03/161, International Monetary Fund.
    13. Martinez, Jose Vicente & Sandleris, Guido, 2011. "Is it punishment? Sovereign defaults and the decline in trade," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 909-930, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Prestarle al Rey
      by Juan C. Barboza in Colectivo Económico on 2011-09-30 17:00:00


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dhillon Amrita, & García-Fronti Javier & Zhang Lei, 2009. "Sovereign Debt Default : The Impact of Creditor Composition," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 901, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Leonardo Martinez & Horacio Sapriza, 2007. "The economics of sovereign defaults," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 163-187.
    3. Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Leonardo Martinez & Horacio Sapriza, 2009. "Heterogeneous Borrowers In Quantitative Models Of Sovereign Default," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1129-1151, November.
    4. Bardozzetti, Alfredo & Dottori, Davide, 2014. "Collective action clauses: How do they affect sovereign bond yields?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 286-303.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:udt:wpbsdt:legalthreat. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Nicolás Del Ponte) or (Héctor Pastori). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.