The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
A striking feature of sovereign lending is that many countries with moderate debt-to-income ratios systematically face higher spreads and more stringent borrowing constraints than others with far higher debt ratios. Earlier research has rationalized the phenomenon in terms of sovereign reputation and countries' distinct credit histories. This paper provides theoretical and empirical evidence to show that differences in underlying macroeconomic volatility are key. While volatility increases the need for international borrowing to help smooth domestic consumption, the ability to borrow is constrained by the higher default risk that volatility engenders.