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Unpleasant surprises : sovereign default determinants and prospects


  • Bandiera, Luca
  • Cuaresma, Jesus Crespo
  • Vincelette, Gallina A.


This paper uses model averaging techniques to identify robust predictors of sovereign default episodes on a pooled database for 46 emerging economies over the period 1980-2004. Sovereign default episodes are defined according to Standard&Poor’s or by non-concessional International Monetary Fund loans in excess of 100 percent of the country’s quota. The authors find that, in addition to the level of indebtedness, the quality of policies and institutions is the best predictor of default episodes in emerging market countries with relatively low levels of external debt. For emerging market countries with a higher level of debt, macroeconomic stability plays a robust role in explaining differences in default probabilities. The paper provides evidence that model averaging can improve out-of-sample prediction of sovereign defaults, and draws policy conclusions for the current crisis based on the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Bandiera, Luca & Cuaresma, Jesus Crespo & Vincelette, Gallina A., 2010. "Unpleasant surprises : sovereign default determinants and prospects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5401, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5401

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Miguel A. Savastano, 2003. "Debt Intolerance," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 1-74.
    2. Winford H. Masanjala & Chris Papageorgiou, 2008. "Rough and lonely road to prosperity: a reexamination of the sources of growth in Africa using Bayesian model averaging," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(5), pages 671-682.
    3. Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus & Doppelhofer, Gernot, 2007. "Nonlinearities in cross-country growth regressions: A Bayesian Averaging of Thresholds (BAT) approach," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 541-554, September.
    4. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark F. J. Steel, 2001. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 563-576.
    5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    6. Fioramanti, Marco, 2008. "Predicting sovereign debt crises using artificial neural networks: A comparative approach," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 149-164, June.
    7. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    8. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    9. Axel Schimmelpfennig & Nouriel Roubini & Paolo Manasse, 2003. "Predicting Sovereign Debt Crises," IMF Working Papers 03/221, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Ephraim & Kassimatis, Konstantinos, 2015. "Macroeconomic effects on emerging-markets sovereign credit spreads," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 1-13.
    2. Klomp, Jeroen, 2017. "Flooded with debt," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 73(PA), pages 93-103.
    3. Maltritz, Dominik & Molchanov, Alexander, 2013. "Analyzing determinants of bond yield spreads with Bayesian Model Averaging," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5275-5284.
    4. Maltritz, Dominik & Molchanov, Alexander, 2014. "Country credit risk determinants with model uncertainty," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 224-234.

    More about this item


    Debt Markets; External Debt; Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress; Economic Theory&Research; Currencies and Exchange Rates;

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