Abstract

A government’s debt portfolio is usually the largest financial portfolio in the country. It often contains complex financial structures and can create substantial balance-sheet risk for the government. Large and poorly structured debt portfolios also make governments more vulnerable to economic and financial shocks and have often been a major factor in economic crises. Recognizing the important role that public debt management can play in helping countries cope with economic and financial shocks, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC)1 requested that staff from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank work together in cooperation with national debt management experts to develop a set of guidelines on public debt management to assist countries in their efforts to reduce financial vulnerability. The IMFC’s request, which was endorsed by the Financial Stability Forum, was made as part of a search for broad principles that could help governments improve the quality of their policy frameworks for managing the effects of volatility in the international monetary and financial system.