1. The Guidelines are designed to assist policymakers in considering reforms to strengthen the quality of their public debt management and reduce their country’s vulnerability to domestic and external shocks, irrespective of whether they are structural or financial in nature. Vulnerability is often greater for smaller and emerging market countries because their economies may be less diversified, have a smaller base of domestic financial savings and less developed financial systems, and may be more susceptible to financial contagion through capital flows. Nevertheless, events since the global financial crisis in the late 2000s demonstrate that larger and developed economies are vulnerable too. The Guidelines should therefore be considered within the broader context of the factors and forces affecting a government’s financial position more generally, and the management of its balance sheet. Governments often manage large foreign exchange reserves portfolios, their fiscal positions are frequently subject to real and monetary shocks, and they can have large exposures to contingent liabilities and to the consequences of poor balance sheet management in the private sector. However, irrespective of whether financial shocks originate within the domestic banking sector or from global financial contagion, prudent government debt management policies, along with sound macroeconomic and regulatory policies, are essential for containing the welfare and output costs associated with such shocks.
This paper reviews recent developments in private market financing for developing countries. Bank creditors themselves have been more amenable to restructuring in an environment where secondary market discounts on bank claims were falling significantly below the level of bank provisioning. This has allowed banks to realize substantial book profits by participating in debt operations. Debt conversions have also played a substantial role in reducing commercial bank debt. The pace of such conversions, however, has slowed over the past year in response to lower secondary market discounts on external debt and to a drop in privatization-related conversions. The re-entry to international capital markets by certain middle-income countries that had experienced debt-servicing difficulties gathered momentum over the past year. Total bond issues in international markets by the main re-entrants accounted for over half of issues by developing countries in this period. In contrast to the experience in securities markets, new bank lending to market re-entrants has remained limited and is confined mainly to short-term trade lines or project financing.
4. Public debt management is the process of establishing and executing a strategy for managing the government’s debt in order to raise the required amount of funding at the lowest possible cost over the medium to long term, consistent with a prudent degree of risk. It should also meet any other public debt management goals the government may have set, such as developing and maintaining an efficient market for government securities.