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Mr. Leonardo Martinez, Mr. Francisco Roch, Francisco Roldán, and Mr. Jeromin Zettelmeyer
This paper surveys the literature on sovereign debt from the perspective of understanding how sovereign debt differs from privately issue debt, and why sovereign debt is deemed safe in some countries but risky in others. The answers relate to the unique power of the sovereign. One the one hand, a sovereign has the power to tax, making debt relatively safe; on the other, it also has control over its territory and most of its assets, making debt enforcement difficult. The paper discusses debt contracts and the sovereign debt market, sovereign debt restructurings, and the empirical and theoretical literatures on the costs and causes of defaults. It describes the adverse impact of sovereign default risk on the issuing countries and what explains this impact. The survey concludes with a discussion of policy options to reduce sovereign risk, including fiscal frameworks that act as commitment devices, state-contingent debt, and independent and credible monetary policy.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp and Laura Sunder-Plassmann
We use a new, comprehensive data set on the sovereign debt investor base to document three novel empirical facts: (i) sovereign debt is repatriated - that is, shifted from external private to domestic investors - prior to sovereign defaults; (ii) not all crises are equal: evidence for repatriation during banking and currency crises is more limited; and (iii) the nature of defaults matters: external investors do not leave during preemptive debt restructurings. We further show that repatriation appears to be prevalent when defaults happen in large markets with low capital controls. The data set we use is uniquely suited to analyzing investor base dynamics during rare crises due to its large cross-section and time series, covering 180 countries from 1989 to 2020.
Francesca G Caselli, Matilde Faralli, Paolo Manasse, and Ugo Panizza
This paper studies whether countries benefit from servicing their debts during times of widespread sovereign defaults. Colombia is typically regarded as the only large Latin American country that did not default in the 1980s. Using archival research and formal econometric estimates of Colombia's probability of default, we show that in the early 1980s Colombia's fundamentals were not significantly different from those of the Latin American countries that defaulted on their debts. We also document that the different path chosen by Colombia was due to the authorities' belief that maintaining a good reputation in the international capital market would have substantial long-term payoffs. We show that the case of Colombia is more complex than what it is commonly assumed. Although Colombia had to re-profile its debts, high-level political support from the US allowed Colombia do to so outside the standard framework of an IMF program. Our counterfactual analysis shows that in the short to medium run, Colombia benefitted from avoiding an explicit default. Specifically, we find that GDP growth in the 1980s was higher than that of a counterfactual in which Colombia behaved like its neighboring countries. We also test whether Colombia's behavior in the 1980s led to long-term reputational benefits. Using an event study based on a large sudden stop, we find no evidence for such long-lasting reputational gains.
Alexis Meyer-Cirkel and Gonzalo Huertas
Public and private sector balance sheets are an important component to any analysis of debt sustainability. A vulnerable and indebted private sector can become a sudden liability for the government; alternatively, resilient household and bank balance sheets may reveal potential sources of funding for the sovereign during times of fiscal distress. In this paper, we document empirical regularities in the behavior of macroeconomic variables during debt crises, and show how both macroeconomic fundamentals and sectoral net worth can affect the likelihood of undergoing default.
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
The paper revisits the two-pillar framework for assessing the adequacy of Fund resources. Responding to Directors suggestions, the quantitative pillar is updated to include alternative assumptions and to provide a longer-term perspective on likely resource needs. While quantitative estimates are generally somewhat lower after factoring in the alternative assumptions, these reductions are more than outweighed when the analysis is extended through the middle of the next decade, recognizing that the outcome of the 15th Review will likely determine permanent Fund resources through at least the middle of the next decade. The updated qualitative pillar analysis highlights reforms since the global financial crisis and discusses uncertainties in the global environment. It also provides an assessment of the general impact of the various qualitative considerations. Taken together, the two pillars continue to make a case for at least maintaining existing Fund resources. Against this background, the simulations in the paper cover three illustrative sizes for quota increases (50, 75, and 100 percent), centered on broadly maintaining Fund resources, assuming the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) is maintained at its current level and Bilateral Borrowing Agreements (BBAs) expire.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & and Review Department
This paper undertakes a triage of the backlog of open actions in Management Implementation Plans (MIPs) responding to recommendations by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), based on the Framework endorsed by the Board in March 2019.
Ms. Julianne Ams, Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler, Ms. Chanda M DeLong, Ms. Nouria El Mehdi, Mr. Mark J Flanagan, Mr. Sean Hagan, Ms. Yan Liu, Charlotte J. Lundgren, Mr. Martin Mühleisen, Alex Pienkowski, Mr. Gustavo Pinto, and Mr. Eric Robert


“The IMF’s Role in the Prevention and Resolution of Sovereign Debt Crises” provides a guided narrative to the IMF’s policy papers on sovereign debt produced over the last 40 years. The papers are divided into chapters, tracking four historical phases: the 1980s debt crisis; the Mexican crisis and the design of policies to ensure adequate private sector involvement (“creditor bail-in”); the Argentine crisis and the search for a durable crisis resolution framework; and finally, the global financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis, and their aftermaths.

International Monetary Fund


This paper discusses about the fact that longer the recognition problems persist, the greater the risk of continued “active inertia” and disappointing outcomes. The possibility of policy mistakes and business accidents will increase further, it will become harder for industrial country governments to convince their citizenry (as well as decision makers in emerging economies) to participate fully in the formulation and implementation of the required solutions, and multilateral institutions will not be able to fill the growing void at the core of the international system. The innovative financial instruments were potent in lowering barriers to entry to many markets, including important segments of the US housing market. As a result, too many households purchased homes that they could not afford, using exotic mortgages they did not fully understand, and too many small companies took on debt they could not sustain. Prior to the crisis, key industrial countries had embarked upon a multiyear, serial contamination of balance sheets.

International Monetary Fund
In light of the multilateral effort to ensure the adequacy of the financial resources available to the International Monetary Fund (the “Fund”), and with a view to supporting the Fund’s ability to provide timely and effective balance of payments assistance to its members, the Swedish Riksbank (“Riksbank”) agrees to lend to the Fund an SDRdenominated amount up to the equivalent of EUR 2.47 billion, on the terms and conditions set out in this paper.