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IMF Research Perspective (formerly published as IMF Research Bulletin) is a new, redesigned online newsletter covering updates on IMF research. In the inaugural issue of the newsletter, Hites Ahir interviews Valeria Cerra; and they discuss the economic environment 10 years after the global financial crisis. Research Summaries cover the rise of populism; economic reform; labor and technology; big data; and the relationship between happiness and productivity. Sweta C. Saxena was the guest editor for this inaugural issue.
International Monetary Fund
Background. The case for sovereign state-contingent debt instruments (SCDIs) as a countercyclical and risk-sharing tool has been around for some time and remains appealing; but take-up has been limited. Earlier staff work had advocated the use of growth-indexed bonds in emerging markets and contingent financial instruments in low-income countries. In light of recent renewed interest among academics, policymakers, and market participants—staff has analyzed the conceptual and practical issues SCDIs raise with a view to accelerate the development of self-sustaining markets in these instruments. The analysis has benefited from broad consultations with both private market participants and policymakers. The economic case for SCDIs. By linking debt service to a measure of the sovereign’s capacity to pay, SCDIs can increase fiscal space, and thus allow greater policy flexibility in bad times. They can also broaden the sovereign’s investor base, open opportunities for risk diversification for investors, and enhance the resilience of the international financial system. Should SCDI issuance rise to account for a large share of public debt, it could also significantly reduce the incidence and cost of sovereign debt crises. Some potential complications require mitigation: a high novelty and liquidity premium demanded by investors in the early stage of market development; adverse selection and moral hazard risks; undesirable pricing effects on conventional debt; pro-cyclical investor demand; migration of excessive risk to the private sector; and adverse political economy incentives.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein and Ugo Panizza
This paper evaluates empirically four types of cost that may result from an international sovereign default: reputational costs, international trade exclusion costs, costs to the domestic economy through the financial system, and political costs to the authorities. It finds that the economic costs are generally significant but short-lived, and sometimes do not operate through conventional channels. The political consequences of a debt crisis, by contrast, seem to be particularly dire for incumbent governments and finance ministers, broadly in line with what happens in currency crises.
Ms. Luisa Zanforlin
The paper analyzes the factors that contribute to the re-access of countries that emerge from a severe financial crisis to the international capital markets. It conjectures that these factors depend on a sovereign's commitment and ability to repay its foreign debt, signaled by sound macroeconomic policies, and the global liquidity environment. Using panel data for 49 countries over a 24-year period, the analysis uses a simple probit approach to show that, indeed, a sustainable debt profile and a sound external position, accompanied by a favorable global liquidity environment, are key factors in affecting the likelihood a sovereign reaccesses international capital markets.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein, Mr. Patricio A Valenzuela, and Kevin Cowan
Although credit rating agencies have gradually moved away from a policy of never rating a private borrower above the sovereign (the "sovereign ceiling") it appears that sovereign ratings remain a significant determinant of the credit rating assigned to corporations. We examine this link using data for advanced and emerging economies over the past decade and conclude that the sovereign ratings have a significant and robust effect on private ratings even after controlling for country specific macroeconomic conditions and firm-level performance indicators. This suggests that public debt management affects the private sector through a channel that had not been previously recognized.
Mr. Jesus R Gonzalez-Garcia and Mr. John Cady
The effects of the adoption of the IMF's International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity Data Template on nominal exchange rate volatility are investigated for 48 countries. Estimation of panel data models indicates that nominal exchange rate volatility decreases following dissemination of reserves template data while the effects of indebtedness and reserve adequacy on volatility exhibit statistically significant changes.