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.
The low-income country debt crisis had its origins in weak macroeconomic policies, and official creditors’ willingness to take risks unacceptable to private lenders. Payments problems were initially addressed through nonconcessional reschedulings and new lending that maximized financing while containing the budgetary costs for creditors. This led to an unsustainable buildup in debt stocks. More recently, debt ratios have improved, reflecting both adjustment and substantial debt relief. The paper estimates debt relief initiatives since 1988 have cost creditors at least $30 billion, and possibly much more. This compares with the estimated costs of about $27 billion under the enhanced HIPC Initiative.