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The sustainable debts of Philip II: A reconstruction of Castile's fiscal position, 1566-1596

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  • Mauricio Drelichman
  • Joachim Voth

Abstract

The defaults of Philip II have attained mythical status as the origin of sovereign debt crises. We reassess the fiscal position of Habsburg Castile, deriving comprehensive estimates of revenue, debt, and expenditure from new archival data. The king’s debts were sustainable. Primary surpluses were large and rising. Debt-to-revenue ratios remained broadly unchanged during Philip’s reign. Castilian finances in the sixteenth century compare favorably with those of other early modern fiscal states at the height of their imperial ambitions, including Britain. The defaults of Philip II therefore reflected short-term liquidity crises, and were not a sign of unsustainable debts.

Suggested Citation

  • Mauricio Drelichman & Joachim Voth, 2006. "The sustainable debts of Philip II: A reconstruction of Castile's fiscal position, 1566-1596," Economics Working Papers 1121, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1121
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    Cited by:

    1. Mauricio Drelichman & Joachim Voth, 2007. "Lending to the borrower from hell: Debt and default in the age of Philip II, 1556-1598," Economics Working Papers 1164, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2009.
    2. Adrian R. Bell & Chris Brooks & Tony K. Moore, 2014. "The credit relationship between Henry III and merchants of Douai and Ypres, 1247–70," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(1), pages 123-145, February.
    3. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2008. "Debt Sustainability in Historical Perspective: The Role of Fiscal Repression," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 657-667, 04-05.
    4. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Drelichman, Mauricio & Hans-Joachim, Voth, 2015. "Returns to Investing in Sovereign Debt: a Response to Alvarez Nogal and Chamley," Economics working papers mauricio_drelichman-2015-, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 02 Sep 2015.
    6. Carlos álvarez-Nogal & Christophe Chamley, 2015. "Equity short-term finance under Philip II, with an option to long-term funded debt," Working Papers 0079, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    7. repec:oup:restud:v:82:y:2015:i:4:p:1409-1448. is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2015. "Duplication without Constraints: Alvarez Nogal and Chamley’s Analysis of Debt Policy under Philip II," Economics working papers mauricio_drelichman-2015-, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 02 Sep 2015.
    9. Koen Deconinck & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2012. "War, Taxes, and Borders:How Beer Created Belgium," LICOS Discussion Papers 30812, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    10. repec:ces:ifodic:v:11:y:2013:i:3:p:19099075 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nicola Gennaioli & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2015. "State Capacity and Military Conflict," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 1409-1448.
    12. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2016. "Duplication without constraints: Álvarez-Nogal and Chamley's analysis of debt policy under Philip II," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(3), pages 999-1006, August.
    13. Álvarez-Nogal, Carlos & Chamley, Christophe, 2016. "Philip Ii Against The Cortes And The Credit Freeze Of 1575-1577," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(03), pages 351-382, December.
    14. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans‐Joachim Voth, 2011. "Lending to the Borrower from Hell: Debt and Default in the Age of Philip II," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1205-1227, December.
    15. Javier L. Arnaut, 2017. "Was Colonialism Fiscally Sustainable? An Empirical Examination of the Colonial Finances of Spanish America," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1703, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    16. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2011. "Funding Empire: Risk, Diversification, and the Underwriting of Early Modern Sovereign Loans," Economics working papers mauricio_drelichman-2011-, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 06 Jul 2011.
    17. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2011. "Serial defaults, serial profits: Returns to sovereign lending in Habsburg Spain, 1566-1600," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-19, January.
    18. Christiaan Bochove, 2014. "External debt and commitment mechanisms: Danish borrowing in Holland, 1763–1825," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 652-677, August.
    19. Mauricio Drelichman & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "Contingent Sovereign Debt Contracts: The Historical Perspective," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 11(3), pages 28-32, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Debt sustainability; Early modern economic history; Philip II; State borrowing; Debt overhang; tax reform;

    JEL classification:

    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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