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.
This paper investigates the value of political institutions for financial markets, using panel data from emerging market countries. We test the hypothesis that changes in political institutions, such as improvements in democratic rights and increased government accountability, have a direct effect on sovereign interest rate spreads. We find that financial markets value institutions over and above the economic and fiscal outcomes these institutions shape. Democracy and accountability generally lower sovereign spreads, political risk tends to increase them, and financial markets tend to view election years negatively.