Bail-Ins, Bailouts, and Borrowing Costs
  • 1 0000000404811396 Monetary Fund
  • | 2 0000000404811396 Monetary Fund

We examine how IMF programs and collective action clauses affect the terms of market access. We find different effects on different types of borrowers. Fund programs appear to create additional commitment for bond borrowers with “intermediate” credit, who consequently are able to borrow at lower cost. Moreover, Fund programs with limited structural conditions have the most favorable effects on investor confidence. Easier restructuring through collective action clauses raises the costs for borrowers with low credit ratings but lowers them for those with high ratings. Thus, for the relatively high quality creditors, own commitment and voluntary restructuring work best.


We examine how IMF programs and collective action clauses affect the terms of market access. We find different effects on different types of borrowers. Fund programs appear to create additional commitment for bond borrowers with “intermediate” credit, who consequently are able to borrow at lower cost. Moreover, Fund programs with limited structural conditions have the most favorable effects on investor confidence. Easier restructuring through collective action clauses raises the costs for borrowers with low credit ratings but lowers them for those with high ratings. Thus, for the relatively high quality creditors, own commitment and voluntary restructuring work best.

Avariety of ideas for governing the flow of portfolio capital have been put on the table in the course of discussions of how to strengthen the international financial architecture. The goal in each case is to reduce the frequency and severity of crises and limit investor moral hazard by creating alternatives to large-scale financial rescues, which are increasingly seen as ineffective in catalyzing private capital flows. While the ideas falling under this heading are diverse, one thing they have in common is their uncertain impact on borrowing costs. The argument is the same whether the proposal is to add collective action clauses to loan contracts, to mandate the inclusion of universal-debt-rollover options in loan agreements, to empower the IMF to sanction a standstill on payments, or to have the Fund lend into arrears to private creditors. Each of these practices, their critics warn, would weaken the bonding role of debt and raise the cost of funds for emerging markets. Friedman (2000) has put the point forcefully. The proponents of these ideas maintain, in contrast, that by preventing avoidable crises and more efficiently resolving those that still arise, these innovations may in fact reduce borrowing costs.

As is frequently the case in economics, models can be constructed supporting both points of view. Miller and Stiglitz (1999) and Dooley (2000) illustrate the point. While Dooley lays out a model of international lending and borrowing in which measures that weaken the bonding role of debt do not just raise borrowing costs but actually reduce lending to the vanishing point, Miller and Stiglitz show that easier restructuring may render foreign lending more attractive by minimizing interruptions of debt service and preventing avoidable losses. Both arguments are logically consistent. Unfortunately, they have opposing implications for the cost of market access. In the absence of evidence, it is impossible to know which one dominates.

A precisely analogous debate surrounds the IMF programs that these measures are intended to replace. The IMF and the official sector generally are fond of referring to the “catalytic role” of the Fund. The news that the Fund is providing essential finance and that the government has agreed to pursue the reforms upon which that assistance is conditioned is supposed to restore investor confidence, catalyze an inflow of private capital, and reduce borrowing costs. Others are more critical of the effects of IMF programs on market conditions. The fact that a country has been forced to approach the Fund may be perceived as a signal of the depth of its difficulties that swamps any positive effect of prospective policy reforms. Moreover, governments have a decidedly mixed record of actually implementing the reforms on which IMF assistance is conditioned; if reform is not likely to follow, then investors will use the provision of official finance as an opportunity to get out rather than getting in. And, in the wake of the Asian crisis, the long lists of structural conditions that the Fund has attached to its loans have been criticized for doing more to undermine investor confidence, by emphasizing the existence of problems that no government can solve in short order, than they do to support it. Again, all of these arguments are consistent, but they have quite different implications for the impact of IMF assistance on borrowing costs. In the absence of evidence, it is impossible to know which one dominates.

This paper is a modest contribution to the evidence on this subject. Section I reviews proposals for changing the way that capital flows are governed ex post and ex ante. Section II describes our data set and methods. We then provide evidence on the effects on the terms of market access of two types of interventions: IMF programs (Section III) and the adoption of collective action clauses (Section IV).1 Section V concludes.

In part our message is pedagogic. There is an imbalance in the literature between theory and evidence. More energy has been devoted to modeling these interventions analytically than to identifying their effects empirically. This is an imbalance that should be redressed.

In addition we have a substantive message, namely, that existing practices and prospective reforms have different effects on different types of borrowers. For example, the commitment effects associated with IMF loans appear to do little for either borrowers with very poor credit, who are least likely to be able to stick to the terms of their programs, or borrowers with very good credit, who are presumably able to commit to reform in their absence. In contrast, Fund programs do appear to enhance the market access of borrowers with “intermediate” credit, who, as a result of the additional commitment that these mechanisms entail, are able to borrow at lower cost. It follows that general statements about the effects of IMF programs run the risk of misleading if they are applied to emerging markets as a class.

Moreover, there is a suggestion that not all Fund programs are created equal. Those accompanied by limited structural conditions have the most favorable effects on investor confidence, while those accompanied by elaborate structural conditions of a sort that governments are not likely to be able to deliver in short order have a negative effect and undermine confidence rather than inspiring it.

Similar messages emerge with regard to changes in the provisions of loan contracts such as the more widespread adoption of collective action clauses. These clauses appear to raise the costs of market access for borrowers with low credit ratings but lower them for borrowers with high ratings. They support Dooley’s prediction for the first group, in effect, but Miller and Stiglitz’s for the second. The tendency for renegotiation-friendly contractual provisions to weaken the bonding role of debt and create moral hazard dominates for borrowers with poor credit, in other words, while for borrowers with good credit, who are less likely to act opportunistically, greater ease of restructuring dominates the increase in moral hazard. Again, it is likely to be misleading to apply statements about the impact on borrowing costs to emerging markets as a class.

I. A Review of the Proposals

In this section we summarize and critique the proposals under review.

Collective Action Clauses

Mechanisms to promote orderly restructuring are seen as opening up an alternative to large-scale financial rescues and the moral hazard they create. According to the advocates of collective action clauses, restructuring is difficult and costly under present institutional arrangements, rendering it impossible for the international financial institutions to stand aside if the markets refuse to roll over maturing claims or provide new money. The international financial institutions are then placed in an untenable position of having to back down on their previous commitment not to provide resources that can be used to finance exit by foreign investors. And because investors are aware of these facts, their behavior is not likely to be modified by the international financial institutions’ less-than-credible statements of intent.

The crux of the matter is thus the difficulty of debt restructuring, sovereign debt restructuring in particular, under prevailing institutional arrangements. American-style instruments governed by New York state law typically require the unanimous consent of the bondholders to the terms of a restructuring.2 Many do not even provide for a bondholder assembly. This contrasts with bonds governed by U.K. law, which include provisions enabling the holders of debt securities to convene an assembly empowered to pass resolutions addressing issues relating to the settlement of defaults and other modifications to the original bond covenant, subject to the consent of bondholders holding a clear majority of the outstanding principal.3 Their resolutions are binding on all bondholders as long as the requisite majority agrees. And in contrast to American-style bonds, which contain no prohibition on legal action by dissident bondholders, U.K.-style bonds shelter the issuer from lawsuits by “vultures” seeking to hold up the restructuring.4

Amending loan contracts to include sharing, majority voting, and collective representation clauses is designed to address these problems and make restructuring a viable option. Majority voting and sharing clauses would discourage maverick creditors from resorting to lawsuits and erecting other obstacles to a settlement beneficial to the debtor and the majority of creditors. Clauses specifying who represents the bondholders and making provision for a bondholders committee or assembly would allow orderly solutions to be reached.5 The restructuring of problem debts could then be left to the consenting adults involved and reduce the pressure on the IMF to extend bailout loans.6 This mechanism for orderly restructurings could actually make emerging-market issues more attractive by minimizing acrimonious disputes, unproductive negotiations, and extended periods when no service is paid and growth is depressed by a suffocating debt overhang.7

The objection is that renegotiation-friendly provisions would make it too easy for countries to walk away from their debts. Collective action clauses would weaken the bonding role of debt, create moral hazard, disrupt credit market access, and raise borrowing costs.8 By compounding the difficulties that low- and middle-income countries already face when attempting to access international capital markets, the more widespread use of collective action clauses could be welfare reducing, so the conclusion follows.

This dispute is empirical, not analytical. There is no disagreement that the more widespread use of collective action clauses would have two offsetting effects. By weakening the bonding role of debt, they would raise borrowing costs, but by facilitating debt restructuring and limiting efficiency losses ex post, they would reduce the costs of market access. Disagreement centers not on these analytics but on the quantitative importance of the two effects.

In the wake of the exchange offers put on the table by Pakistan, Ukraine, and Ecuador, this debate has taken a different turn. It is now argued (by, for example, Roubini, 2000) that collective action clauses are superfluous because what cannot be accomplished by restructuring under New York law is still possible via exchange offers. Pakistan restructured its debt by completing a voluntary exchange without using the collective action clauses in its bonds. Ukraine restructured by completing a voluntary debt exchange without calling for a bondholders meeting. Ecuador restructured by completing a voluntary debt exchange of bonds that did not include collective action clauses, binding in reluctant bondholders through the use of “exit consents.”9

Proponents of collective action clauses argue that this new view is too simple (see, for example, Kahn, 2000). The mere existence of such clauses helps to concentrate the minds of investors. The mechanism is analogous to corporate debt restructuring in the shadow of the court. While firms prefer to work out problems with their creditors directly, voluntary settlements are facilitated by the knowledge that the debtor will seek the shelter of the bankruptcy court if the effort to achieve an out-of-court settlement fails. Similarly, in the international context, everyone knows that if the voluntary exchange fails, the debtor will invoke the collective action clauses in his debt instruments, which allow the majority to bind in rogue creditors (and, not incidentally, provide the issuer with shelter from legal action). This increases the likelihood of voluntary action.

In fact, this is precisely how collective action clauses have been used in recent restructurings. Pakistan warned that they might have to be invoked if a critical mass of investors did not accept its exchange offer. In Ukraine, where three of the four debt securities involved had collective action clauses, bondholders tendering their bonds for exchange were required to assign their voting rights to the trustee, who could then vote to bind in other bondholders if the need arose. In this view, collective action clauses are not the first recourse, nor should they be. But they are the final recourse, and a useful one.

These two views of collective action clauses have different empirical implications. If all the same things can be accomplished through exchange offers of debt securities lacking collective action clauses as through the restructuring of debt securities featuring them, then the contractual provisions in question will have no discernible impact on borrowing costs. Evidence of an impact, in contrast, is inconsistent with the view that collective action and representation provisions are superfluous.

Universal Debt Rollover Options

Buiter and Sibert (1999) propose that a clause providing for a universal debt rollover option with penalty (UDROP) be added to all foreign-currency-denominated loans and credits as a way of dealing with the creditor panic problem. The borrower would then have the option of extending a maturing debt for a specified period (say, three months). While the regulatory authorities would mandate the inclusion of this option in all debt instruments, its precise terms could be negotiated between the debtor and its creditors when the loan agreement was written.

To prevent the borrower from exercising the option under orderly market conditions and thereby avoid moral hazard, Buiter and Sibert propose requiring a debtor invoking the option to compensate the lender at a penalty rate and allowing the option to be invoked only once. Hence, a borrower who was insolvent would not be sheltered from the need to restructure its debts at the end of the rollover period.10

The effect on borrowing costs of mandating the inclusion of such options in international loan agreements is predictably ambiguous. On the one hand, there is the argument that, if repatriating their funds is made more difficult for foreign investors, they will demand an additional premium before they lend in the first place. On the other hand, if the presence of these provisions reduces the risk of bank-run-like liquidity crises, then that risk reduction will make lending to emerging markets more attractive, reducing rather than increasing spreads.11


Another proposal is for resort to a payments standstill endorsed or sanctioned by the IMF. Williamson (1992) and Sachs (1994) first mooted this idea in the context of broader proposals for an international bankruptcy court. Eichengreen and Portes (1995) appraised the proposal in a background paper to the Rey Report (G-10, 1996), where the official community offered a discussion of the idea. Following the Asian crisis, Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin put before the Interim Committee a proposal that would have compelled IMF member countries to enact legislation requiring that all bonds and short-term borrowing instruments carry a covenant allowing the IMF to declare and/or approve a debt moratorium.12

If the problem is panic, then a payments standstill, like a universal debt rollover, would allow investors to collect their wits. It would give them time to reflect and to agree on mutually beneficial actions. It would allow the authorities to contact the creditors and encourage them to recognize their collective interest. Even if there are problems with fundamentals, the imposition of a temporary standstill would provide the government a chance to signal its commitment to the policy reforms needed for the restoration of confidence.

In analogy to domestic bankruptcy procedures, a temporary stay could ensure that restructuring remains orderly—that it is not undermined by attempts to seize assets. By preventing the creditors from scrambling for the country’s limited foreign exchange and from shutting off external finance for future economic activity (which would otherwise be unavailable for fear that this too will be garnished by the creditors), the country will then have the finance to grow out of its temporary problem. Total payments to the creditors, in present value terms, could be greater than if investors engaged in a grab race.

Moreover, standstills, according to their proponents, would reduce the moral hazard associated with IMF bailouts by creating a viable alternative. At present, the IMF finds the extension of rescue loans irresistible because it does not want to see a country with good growth prospects strangled by a creditor panic that strips it of its reserves and denies it access to new external credits. This creates investor moral hazard, however, which can be avoided if the country and the Fund can invoke a standstill instead.

Governments can already declare debt standstills unilaterally, and the IMF can already signal its approval verbally or by lending into arrears.13 But governments imposing standstills are still vulnerable to legal action by disaffected creditors, who may resort to litigation to seize assets.14 Legislation requiring that all bonds and short-term borrowing instruments carry a covenant allowing the IMF to declare and/or approve a debt moratorium or an IMF-sanctioned stay that was binding on the creditors, as suggested by Martin, would shelter the government from such legal disruptions. Another option would be to amend the IMF Articles of Agreement to give the institution the power to officially “sanction” a stay on payments and to give that amendment effect in the relevant national courts (through national legislation or judicial precedent).15 These are not high-probability events.

The most basic objection is that standstills would weaken creditor rights and raise borrowing costs.16 As the Institute of International Finance (1996, app. A, p. 29) has written, “the more investors perceive that institutional arrangements are trending towards ‘no-fault default,’ with minimal pain for the borrower and substantial risk of the politicization of debt, the less willing they will be to supply capital to the emerging markets.” It has made the point specifically in connection with IMF-approved stay-of-litigation proposals: “Far from contributing to ‘orderly’ solutions, official statements [advocating IMF approval of stays of litigation by creditors] … are raising doubts among market participants about the official community’s commitment to upholding private contracts” (Dallara, 1999, p. 7). It follows that, as the Institute has put the point in another document: “Further consideration of stays is likely to have a significant dampening effect on the willingness of private creditors to provide cross-border financing …” (Institute of International Finance, 1999b, p. 12).

These objections are telling. The IMF does not have the powers of a bankruptcy judge who can replace the management of the company in receivership, reorganize its financial affairs, and impose a settlement on uncooperative creditors. That recourse to a standstill might discourage adjustment by the government of the crisis country is a serious objection. As Summers (1996, p. 4) has put it, the analogy with corporate bankruptcy is flawed because “the safeguards against moral hazard built into domestic bankruptcy codes cannot be applied to sovereign debtors.”

Miller and Zhang (2000) argue, in contrast, that the IMF could limit moral hazard by attaching conditions to its approval or activation of the measure. If the cooling-off period provided by the standstill prevented the creditors’ panicked rush for the exits from compounding the country’s financial crisis, its economic problems would be lessened and its ability to pay enhanced. In principle, borrowing costs could fall rather than rise.17

Guarantees and Other Enhancements

Official guarantees and similar credit enhancements have been suggested as another device for encouraging the private sector to provide new liquidity to crisis countries. The enhancements in question could range from plain vanilla guarantees of interest payments for a fixed period on new loans or capital market placements, to structured, one-time capital market placements that might have a put feature for a limited period at a market price below the issue price.18 As the IMF (1999, p. 63) has explained, such guarantees would be “intended to ‘leverage’ official capital, allowing a limited amount of official capital to support a larger amount of financing, while lowering the costs of private financing for emerging market borrowers. In general, the proposals aim to encourage a renewal of relations between governments and their private creditors, enhance the creditworthiness of the borrower, allow a speedier restoration of market confidence, and help to address concerns about burden sharing among official and private creditors.” Corrigan (2000) motivates the case similarly: Enhancements could be used to get critically needed private money into the crisis country and limit the need for official financing. They would “provide incentives for private participation and incentives for reasonably rapid turnaround in the troubled country such as we have seen in Mexico in 1995 and Brazil, Korea and Thailand in 1998–99.”

Analytically, it is not clear that plain vanilla interest guarantees and more complex enhancements are really any different from IMF stand-by loans. In one case the Fund lends to the government, which then uses its monies to pay off investors if they choose to exit. In the other case the Fund provides resources directly to investors if the borrower halts payments or the market price of the security falls to the strike price. While the funds pass through the accounts of the government in one case but not in the other, their ultimate disposition is the same. Investors have the same incentive to purchase claims on the crisis country in the expectation that multilateral resources will be made available if further financial difficulties arise. The pressure for adjustment by the crisis country is not obviously different in the two cases. Nothing else having changed, it is not clear that the magnitude of the official finance needed to aid the crisis country will be any different, that fewer investors will panic, or that more contrarians will bottom fish. It does not obviously follow that official enhancements “help to address concerns about burden sharing among official and private creditors” (to repeat the quotation above).

It has been suggested that official enhancements of claims on the crisis country may encourage investors to coordinate on a cooperative equilibrium when providing new money is in their collective but not their individual interest.19 But again, it is not clear that guarantees are superior to conventional IMF loans for encouraging investors to coordinate on the more efficient equilibrium. This argument for enhancements is the same as that made for IMF stand-by loans, in other words, and it is subject to the same objections. In particular, just as with an IMF program, it is possible that the provision of an enhancement will be perceived as an adverse signal. If taken as a sign that the borrower is in dire straits, it may damage rather than enhance credit market access. It is not certain that the availability of external finance will rise and that its cost will fall, rather than the other way around.


There is no shortage of ideas for changing the arrangements governing international capital flows and providing alternatives to IMF rescue loans. One of the few things all such proposals have in common is that there is no consensus regarding their impact on the cost and availability of private credit to emerging markets, one of the key criteria used by diverse observers to judge their efficacy. This lack of consensus is symptomatic of a lack of evidence. It is to the development of such evidence that we now turn.

A caveat is important before we proceed. Evidence that a particular reform is likely to raise or reduce borrowing costs does not, by itself, tell us whether that reform is desirable. To put the point another way, while everyone agrees that the cost of emerging-market finance is distorted, they do not agree on the direction. The dominant presumption in low- and middle-income countries is probably that asymmetric information and inadequate contract enforcement inflate the cost of capital for emerging markets, so anything that reduces those costs is efficiency and welfare enhancing. But observers situated in high-income countries argue that expectations of official bailouts have created spread compression and encouraged overlending to emerging markets (see Dooley, 1997, and McKinnon and Pill, 1997). If this effect dominates, then higher spreads will indicate a more efficient allocation of resources. In this paper we do not attempt to determine whether higher or lower spreads are better (whether an increase or a reduction moves the cost of borrowing toward its efficient, first-best level) but focus on the prior question of whether spreads are likely to go up or down.

II. Data and Methods

Our data set is essentially the universe of international bonds issued by emerging markets in the course of the 1990s.20 We assembled information on bonds issued between 1991–I and 1999–IV from Capital Bondware.21 Hence, the evidence developed here is exclusively for the bond market; we do not analyze the transactions in the international bank market.22

Throughout this paper, the basis for our empirical analysis is a two-equation model of the supply and demand for international debt—equivalently, a probit for the issue decision (the supply-of-debt decision) and a spreads equation (which indicates investor demand). The spreads equation is a linear relationship of this form:


where the dependent variable is the logarithm of the spread; X is a vector of issue, issuer, and period characteristics; and u1 is a random error.

The spread (and its relationship to issuer and issuer characteristics) will be observed only when the decision to borrow and lend is made. Assume that spreads are observed when a latent variable B crosses a threshold B′ defined by


where X′ is the vector of variables that determines the desire of borrowers to borrow and the willingness of lenders to lend, and u2 is a second error term. If the error terms in equations (1) and (2) are bivariate normal with standard deviations s1 and s2 and covariance s122/s1 s2, this is a sample selection model, and equations (1) and (2) can be estimated simultaneously. They can be identified by the nonlinearity of the fitted probabilities in the selection equation or by the inclusion of elements in X′ that are not also in X.

Throughout, we focus on primary-market (launch) spreads. We include the following variables as measures of creditworthiness in the spreads equation: external debt relative to GNP, debt service relative to exports, whether a debt restructuring agreement has been concluded within the previous year with either private or official creditors, the growth rate of real GDP, the variance of export growth, the ratio of reserves to short-term debt, and the ratio of domestic private credit to GDP. We also use a subjective measure of political risk constructed from country credit ratings provided by Institutional Investor.23 We include the log of the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate (to capture the opportunity cost of lending to emerging markets), the swap rate (the market measure commonly used to measure investor risk tolerance), and the difference between the 10-year and 1-year U.S. Treasury rates (to represent the slope of the yield curve and hence the appetite for difference maturities).24

We estimate the determinants of spreads and the probit for the borrowing decision as a system, by maximum likelihood. Estimating the determinants of market access requires information on those who did not issue bonds. For each country we consider three categories of issuers: sovereign, (other) public, and private. For each quarter and country where one of these issuers did not come to the market, we record a zero, and where they did we record a one.25

III. Bailouts

IMF programs are the benchmark against which reform proposals should be judged. We therefore start by analyzing the association of Fund programs with the cost and availability of finance. Do countries approaching the IMF for assistance find it easier or harder to access financial markets subsequently? Do they pay higher or lower spreads?

We address these questions by including indicator variables for IMF programs in the issue and spreads equations specified above, which allows us to consider the impact on both quantities and prices. There is a large literature on the effects of IMF programs, much of which is rendered inconclusive by methodological problems.26 For example, there is the potential endogeneity of IMF programs. Fortunately, this problem is less serious in our context than others. Our dependent variable is the individual bond issue, not a macroeconomic aggregate like the growth rate of aggregate capital flows. It is less likely that the decision to approach the IMF and the Fund’s decision to help are affected by the success of an individual bond issue (given that a number of the program countries in our sample floated multiple issues in periods when they were involved with the Fund) than that they are affected by the growth rate or the overall level of capital flows. Hausman tests do not allow us to reject the null that IMF programs are exogenous with respect to individual security issues.

Other problems remain. For example, if one finds a certain association between IMF programs and subsequent economic performance or market outcomes, it is not possible to say whether that association reflects the impact of Fund programs per se or the implications of other unobservable characteristics of the country that both prompt it to approach the Fund and shape the performance of its economy and the reaction of the markets. These alternatives are sometimes referred to as the “commitment” and “signaling” interpretations—that Fund programs are a commitment device that enhances the government’s dedication to reform, on the one hand, and that they send a signal of the depth of the country’s problems, on the other. Fancy econometric fixes for this problem are no more convincing than the restrictive assumptions on which they are based.

Our presumption is that the commitment and signaling effects operate to different degrees on different borrowers. Specifically, we are interested in the differential impact of IMF programs across countries with different credit ratings—in the hypothesis that the market will view Fund programs differently depending on the credit quality of the government. We are also interested in the differential effects of different types of conditionality.

In column 1 of Table 1, we show the results of the probit relating the decision to issue a bond to a vector of country characteristics (the growth rate, the level of indebtedness, and so on), a vector of market conditions (the U.S. treasury bond rate, the yield curve, and the log swap rate), and whether or not the country has negotiated an IMF program. The estimated probit includes interaction terms for Latin America. As such, the estimated coefficients for Latin America, when the dummy for Latin America takes on the value 1, are the sum of the coefficients in columns la and 1b.

Table 1.

Full-Sample Estimates of Impact of IMF Programs on Market Access

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Notes: Dummy variables for private and public issuers, industrial sectors, currency of issue, and whether the bond was issued at a fixed or floating rate were included in the regressions but are not reported here. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics. Number of observations are reported for probits, and number of bonds are reported for spreads equation.

The coefficients for the probit are normalized to the partial derivative of the probability distribution function with respect to a small change in the independent variable, evaluated at the average values of the independent variables. Additional variables in the probit include debt-service/exports, short-term/total debt, and reserves/imports. Note that column 1b lists only additional interaction effects for Latin borrowers.

In columns 2 through 6, we relate many of these same variables to the determination of spreads.27 It appears that IMF programs have a positive impact on market access, other things being equal, and a negative impact on spreads, although the first effect is more robust than the second.28 In contrast to most of their predecessors, these results are more readily reconciled with the (positive) commitment interpretation than the (negative) signaling effect. They also provide some evidence of the catalytic role of IMF programs—or of the moral hazard created by IMF lending if one prefers to interpret them that way.

There are some interesting differences by program type and history. We distinguish stand-by arrangements, support through the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), and Structural Adjustment Facility (SAF) and Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) arrangements, in contrast to previous quantitative analyses which clump all Fund programs together. Stand-by arrangements and EFF loans have a negative impact on spreads, although only for the latter does that effect approach significance at the standard 5 percent level (i.e., when the absolute value of the t-statistic is 2 or more) when each type of arrangement is included in the model by itself. For ESAF loans, there is no evidence of lower spreads: the coefficient in question is positive (although it is again indistinguishable from zero at conventional confidence levels). When we include measures of all three types of arrangements at the same time, these findings are reinforced: now the negative impact of stand-by and EFF loans is significantly less than zero at conventional confidence levels, and EFF loans have roughly twice the impact of stand-by arrangements on borrowing costs. The effect of ESAF loans on spreads continues to be positive but insignificantly different from zero. Interestingly, we also find that the impact on spreads weakens with the length of IMF involvement.29

The magnitudes are not insignificant. The coefficient on stand-by arrangements when all three types of Fund programs are entered simultaneously (in 6) implies that their presence reduces spreads by 24 basis points, which is 8.5 percent (relative to a sample average of 280 basis points). For EFF arrangements, spreads fall by 15.3 percent, which is 43 basis points. These benefits are eliminated once a country has been in a stand-by arrangement for 10 quarters and in an EFF arrangement for 18 quarters.

It is tempting to interpret these patterns in terms of differences in policy conditionality and in the perceived probability of country compliance. Goldstein (2000) identifies three types of conditionality: macro, macro with a light emphasis on structural reform, and macro with a heavy structural emphasis. Stand-by arrangements tend to be of the first type—that is, they are accompanied mainly by macroeconomic conditions. EFF programs tend to have more structural conditions but a somewhat lower compliance rate. ESAF loans have the most structural conditions and, again, a mixed record of compliance.

This suggests the following interpretation of the patterns in Table 1. The conditions associated with stand-by arrangements enhance market access by strengthening the commitment of the government to removing the (mainly) macroeconomic imbalances that led it to approach the Fund. The conditions associated with EFF arrangements, which are in the nature of “first generation reforms,” further enhance market access by strengthening the commitment of the authorities to addressing not just macroeconomic imbalances but also some of the structural causes of the crisis. That these effects weaken with program length suggests that the markets see chronic involvement with the Fund as indicative of compliance problems.

The fact that ESAF loans do not appear to have a favorable impact on terms of market access may reflect doubts that the authorities can effectively push through by executive fiat the more ambitious “second generation reforms” demanded by the Fund. The lack of an effect (and perhaps even an unfavorable effect) on borrowing costs is not obviously consistent with the official view that more comprehensive and ambitious conditionality of the sort that the Fund has attached to some of its recent programs is necessary or desirable for restoring market access. All that these extensive requirements may do is to alert the markets to the existence of structural problems (accounting for the positive coefficient on ESAF loans on our spreads equations). These results can be read as supporting the view that second-generation reforms that take more time and are more difficult to implement are best left until the crisis passes.

In Table 2, we disaggregate by Institutional Investor credit rating, placing countries into four groups: 0–30, 30–50, 50–70, and 70–100.30 Not surprisingly, we observe no bond issuer from a country with a rating of 70 or higher with an IMF program, and no country in the 50–70 range with an EEF or ESAF loan. For countries in the lowest rating category (0–30), the coefficients on IMF programs are small and insignificant statistically (column 1). It would appear that the country’s economic problems and difficulty in making a credible commitment to policy reform are already factored into spreads and that the arrival of the IMF is not seen as making a difference in this regard. For borrowers in the next rating category (30–50), in contrast, IMF programs tend to be associated with a reduction in spreads, other things being equal (column 2), especially if they are provided through the EFF. An interpretation is that the bad news about these countries is already known, but the arrival of IMF support has a commitment-strengthening effect.31 The opposite is true for countries in the next rating category (50–70), where IMF programs tend to be associated with an increase in spreads (column 3). The main effect of approaching the Fund in this case would appear to be to send bad news to the market about these otherwise creditworthy countries.32

Table 2.

Subsample Estimates of Impact of IMF Programs on Spreads

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Notes: Dummy variables for private and public issuers, industrial sectors, currency of issue, and whether the bond was issued at a fixed or floating rate were included in the regressions but are not reported here. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

Thus, there is some evidence in the reaction of financial markets to the news of IMF programs that Fund loans enhance market access. They do so mainly when they have macroeconomic and modest structural conditions attached, but not when they require more far-reaching and difficult-to-implement structural reforms. They do so mainly for countries of intermediate creditworthiness, for whom involvement with the Fund can be seen as strengthening the commitment to reform, and not for countries with poor credit (where program compliance is viewed as unlikely) or good credit (where the commitment to reform is already strong). These results will hearten official observers concerned to document the “catalytic effect” of IMF programs, although they also suggest cautions about the type of IMF programs that exercise this effect. To the extent that investors rush in and spreads are compressed following the announcement of IMF programs, these results can also be interpreted as evidence of moral hazard, although the differential pattern of effects is not easily reconciled with the moral hazard view.

IV. Bail-Ins

In a previous paper (Eichengreen and Mody, 2000c), we analyzed the impact on spreads of collective representation clauses, comparing bonds issued under U.K. governing law with comparable bonds subject to U.S. law in the period 1991–98.33 Earlier contributions had failed to find an impact on borrowing costs (e.g., see Deutsche Bundesbank, 1999; Tsatsaronis, 1999; and Griffith-Jones, Ocampo, and Cailloux, 1999). We suggested that this resulted from their failure to control for other characteristics of the issue and the issuer, to adjust for the selectivity associated with the decision to borrow, to allow for the endogeneity of the choice of governing law, and to permit different effects for more and less creditworthy borrowers. Upon doing so, we found that opting for collective action clauses raised spreads for borrowers with low credit ratings (below 50 on the Institutional Investor scale) but reduced them for borrowers with high credit ratings (above 50 by this measure). The impact was particularly strong at the extremes—for countries with Institutional Investor ratings below 30 and above 70.

The obvious interpretation is as follows. More creditworthy borrowers value their capital market access and are not likely to walk away from their debts. Including collective action clauses in their loan contracts does not significantly aggravate moral hazard. In the exceptional circumstance that such borrowers have difficulties in servicing their debts, the fact that investors can avail themselves of provisions that allow them to restructure their claims in an orderly way is viewed positively by the markets. For less creditworthy borrowers, in contrast, the presence of collective action clauses aggravates moral hazard and increases borrowing costs. The two effects work in opposite directions, resulting in a small and insignificant overall impact on borrowing costs, but in noticeable net effects, opposite in sign, for different credit rating classes. The existence of these effects is hard to reconcile with the new conventional wisdom that the same things can be accomplished through exchange offers under U.S. law, at the same cost, as can be accomplished in the presence of collective action clauses.

This analysis covered the period through 1998, ending before collective action clauses became the subject of debate and scrutiny, making it worthwhile to ask whether the results carry over when we update the data. In addition, we did not ask whether the results were different for sovereign and other borrowers. The argument for collective action clauses on efficiency-of-resolution grounds is strongest for sovereign borrowers because unlike corporations, sovereigns cannot resort to court proceedings to resolve their financial difficulties in an orderly way. The argument against them on moral hazard grounds is also strongest because there is no court to reach into governments’ financial affairs and impose sanctions for opportunism. Finally, we did not analyze the determinants of choice of governing law in detail. We relax these limitations in what follows.

As before, we control for selectivity and for the endogeneity of the governing law. We now include bonds subject to Luxembourg law under the “U.K. law” heading because the former also include collective action provisions.34 We instrument the choice of governing law because there is good reason to think that it should be regarded as a choice variable.35 And, as noted above, we now use data through the end of 1999.

If our interpretation is appropriate, then the advantages of bonding (which should attract borrowers to U.S. law) and easy recontracting (which should attract them to U.K. law) should be reflected in their choice of contracting terms. Table 3 shows the number of bonds issued under the provisions of U.K. law, U.S. law, and other governing laws for each of our four credit-rating categories.36 The bulk of issuance by borrowers with the lowest credit ratings (0–30 on the Institutional Investor scale) is subject to U.K. law. This plausibly reflects the value to borrowers and lenders of having renegotiation-friendly procedures in place on loans for which restructuring is in any case a relatively high-probability event. Borrowers in the next higher rating category (30–50) do more than half of their borrowing under U.S. law. For this class of borrowers there is a lower probability of having to restructure, and issuers are apparently willing to accept greater difficulty of restructuring in return for the greater commitment provided by U.S. law. Finally, the bulk of issuance by borrowers with high credit ratings (50 and above on the Institutional Investor scale) is again subject to the provisions of U.K. law, presumably reflecting the ability of these borrowers to commit to repay without the addition of inflexible contract terms, something that allows them the option value of easy renegotiability. Who borrows under what kind of governing law is thus explicable in terms of our conceptual framework. These patterns are harder to rationalize if one believes that governing law is irrelevant (because restructuring can be accomplished as easily in the presence and absence of collective action clauses) or that borrowers and lenders have historically failed to pay close attention to these provisions.

Table 3.

Characteristics of Borrowers by Rating Category and Type of Governing Law

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Conceivably, these patterns reflect technical characteristics of the market on which the issuer borrows, correlated with the choice of governing law but omitted from these bivariate comparisons in Table 3. In other words, the market that borrowers approach is determined by the level of interest rates and other conditions that make borrowing there attractive, and the governing law is an incidental product of that choice (Becker, Richards, and Thaicharoen, 2000). This is a testable proposition: if the choice of governing law depends on characteristics of the borrower and not merely characteristics of the market, then this is evidence for our interpretation and against the view of governing laws as a purely incidental characteristic of the choice of market.

As reported in Table 4, where we relate the choice of governing law to the state of the market, technical characteristics of the loan, and the same credit rating measure as before, we continue to find that the characteristics of the issuer are important, inconsistent with the aforementioned critique. Issuers from countries with the highest and lowest ratings continue to be most inclined to issue under U.K. law.37 The probability of issuing under U.S. law peaks at a rating of approximately 50. Again, it appears that for issuers with the lowest ratings and the highest probability of having to restructure, borrowers and lenders prefer having in place a contractual mechanism for restructuring, while for issuers with the highest ratings and no need for the additional bonding that U.S. law provides, having recourse to renegotiation-friendly provisions in the event of an extraordinary contingency has option value.

Table 4.

Determinants of Choice of Governing Law

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Notes: Dummy variables for private and public issuers, industrial sectors, currency of issue, and whether the bond was issued at a fixed or floating rate were included in the regressions but are not reported here. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

The base category is the U.S. governing law.

The key point is that this association between borrower credit quality and choice of governing law is consistent with our emphasis on the trade-off between commitment and ease of renegotiation. It is hard to imagine an explanation for these patterns grounded purely in the technical characteristics of the relevant markets.38

Finally, Table 5 reports the results for spreads, separately for countries in different Institutional Investor rating categories. Many of the coefficients are less precisely estimated than for the full set of bonds (as shown in Eichengreen and Mody, 2000c), reflecting the now smaller sample size.39 But the results of particular interest, on U.K. governing law, are relatively robust. The presence of collective action clauses, so measured, raises borrowing costs for countries with poor credit while reducing costs for countries with relatively good ratings. The coefficients on U.K. governing law shift smoothly from large positive to small positive, to small negative, to large negative, as we move up the credit rating gradient (columns 1–4).

Table 5.

Impact of Governing Laws by Credit Rating Category

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Notes: Dummy variables for private and public issuers, industrial sectors, currency of issue, and whether the bond was issued at a fixed or floating rate were included in the regressions but are not reported here. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

Figure 1 presents a diagrammatic representation of the results. Spreads decline with improved credit rating at a higher rate for U.K. law bonds than for U.S. law bonds. When we do not instrument for the choice of law (and for the measurement error that exists because these laws do not perfectly represent the presence or absence of collective action clauses), the U.K. law bonds are seen to have somewhat higher spreads than U.S. law bonds at low ratings, but the differences are not statistically significant. However, when we replace the dummy variable for law by the probability of issuance under the law, the U.S. law line, in effect, swivels, creating a larger positive difference at the lower end and a larger negative difference at the higher end. The implication at the lower end of the rating spectrum is that unobserved factors that lead to higher spreads also lead to choice of the U.S. law. The opposite is the case at the higher end of the rating scale.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Spreads Over Risk-Free Rate, Credit Ratings, and Governing Law

Citation: IMF Staff Papers 2001, 005; 10.5089/9781451963090.024.A006

In columns 5–6 of Table 5, we report similar equations for sovereigns alone. The effects are similar—higher spreads for borrowers with poor credit ratings, lower spreads for more creditworthy borrowers. Levels of statistical significance are lower, however, reflecting the still smaller sample size.40 We can raise the precision of the estimates if we impose the additional assumption that the other determinants of emerging market spreads are the same for sovereigns and other borrowers—that is, by estimating the model on the full sample but adding interaction terms for sovereign status and governing laws.41 The interaction terms then tell us whether there are significantly different effects for sovereigns than for other borrowers. It turns out that this is not the case: none of the interaction terms enters with a coefficient that differs significantly from zero, while the dummy for U.K. governing law continues to enter positively for borrowers with low credit ratings and negatively for borrowers with high credit ratings. It would appear that the market’s pricing of these provisions is no different for sovereigns than for other borrowers (reported in Eichengreen and Mody, 2000d).

Again, the results are robust to a number of additional checks.42 For example, to check that we are picking up the characteristics of the bond rather than the market in which it is issued, we added interest rates in additional financial centers (London and Tokyo) to our spreads equation.43 There is a slight reduction in the size of the positive coefficient on U.K. law for borrowers with high credit ratings but no discernible change in the point estimate for less creditworthy borrowers, and there are no changes in statistical significance.

A further check is whether IMF programs affect the connection between governing laws and spreads. Recall that above we found that Fund programs had the strongest tendency to enhance creditworthiness, presumably by buttressing the borrower’s commitment to reform, in countries with credit ratings in the 30–50 range. If IMF programs serve as commitment-enhancing mechanisms for these countries, then we should expect those that opt for U.K. law (which would otherwise have to trade commitment for ability to restructure) to now suffer less of a penalty in terms of higher spreads. This is what we find when we interact the existence of Fund programs with U.K. governing law. The story is different, in plausible ways, for countries within the 0–30 range. Recall that Fund programs do less to enhance the commitment of these countries to meet their commercial obligations. It follows that we should find less of a change in the effect of governing law on spreads when we interact IMF programs with choice of law. This is what we find. Again, it is hard to imagine an explanation for these patterns grounded in the technical characteristics of the relevant markets, while it is straightforward to interpret them in terms of the ability of alternative contractual provisions to facilitate bonding and restructuring.

Before concluding, we can also present a little bit of evidence on proposals to use official enhancements and guarantees to encourage the private sector to extend new credits in periods of shaky investor confidence.44 Among the objections to this idea, as noted above, is that guarantees may do more to signal problems than to reassure investors. Table 5 shows that guarantees reduce spreads on issues from low-rated countries (0–30 on the Institutional Investor scale), as if the bad news about these countries is already known and the main effect of guarantees is to reduce risk. This is the same group of countries, it will be recalled, for which IMF programs have no discernible impact on spreads. Thus, it would appear that guarantees can do what IMF programs cannot in reducing risk for investors in these sub-investment-grade issues.45 The impact on spreads is of the same order of magnitude as the premium paid by U.K. law issuers relative to U.S. law issuers, as if the guarantee offsets the risk to investors resulting from any additional borrower moral hazard under this contractual arrangement. The magnitude of the effect declines as one moves up the credit-rating scale and even turns positive, in some cases, for borrowers with good credit. For these borrowers, if not others, guarantees may do more to signal problems than to solve them.

V. Conclusion

This paper has considered the impact of IMF involvement and of some alternative approaches to crisis management and resolution on the cost of borrowing for emerging markets. While the official community has held out hope that both Fund programs and these alternatives can reduce the cost of borrowing and improve the availability of private credit, both have been accused of doing more to damage than enhance market access.

How can sensible people subscribe to such different views? The answer, in part, is that different borrowers are affected differently by these interventions. Where one stands on these issues consequently depends on where one sits. A further implication is that, in discussions of new approaches to governing capital flows and managing crises, it is not likely to be helpful to speak of the impact on emerging markets as a class.

Table 6 summarizes our findings and indicates how they lead us to think about the world. For countries with poor credit, including many whose institutions of financial and economic governance remain underdeveloped, there is only limited evidence that IMF programs enhance private market access. In many of these countries, it would appear, the commitments entailed by IMF conditionality are simply not credible. The same is true of provisions in private contracts that imply a strong commitment to service debts on an inflexible schedule (in other words, we do not see these countries borrowing under U.S. law). If the official community is serious about enhancing the market access of these countries in the short run, then there may be no alternative to official guarantees as a mechanism to reassure investors. More generally, the role of the multilaterals in these countries should be thought of as supporting the kind of structural and developmental changes that can only be accomplished in the long run, not as somehow using their resources to immediately catalyze private finance.46

Table 6.

Broader Implications of the Results

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For countries with a somewhat stronger capacity for reform, both IMF programs and relatively inflexible private contracts are ways for borrowers to send a credible signal of commitment to the market. Fund programs can play something of a catalytic role, or so it would appear, which supports the case for IMF lending in times of crisis.

Countries with superior credit ratings have a greater capacity to commit without outside intervention. Multilateral intervention—whether it takes the form of IMF programs or official guarantees—runs the risk of raising questions about that capacity. It is no surprise that we see such countries hesitating to approach the Fund. For such countries, a preferable solution to financial difficulties may be to approach their creditors on a bilateral basis, assuming that they have in place the institutional mechanisms necessary for negotiations to succeed.

Our findings also may have implications for the design of Fund programs, although here we move beyond what is explicit in our results. There is a suggestion that the most effective Fund programs are conditioned on a combination of macroeconomic adjustments and limited structural reforms. Programs of this character do more to enhance investor confidence and improve the crisis country’s terms of market access than programs that pay little heed to structural problems, but they also have more positive effects than programs conditioned on very extensive structural reforms. The first comparison is consistent with the view that policy reforms beyond the narrowly macroeconomic are essential for credibility and stability in today’s financially integrated world and that the Fund ignores them at its peril. At the same time, demanding deep, ambitious structural reforms at the height of a crisis is not likely to be productive. Conditionality needs to strike a balance.


Table A1.

Country Classification by Credit Rating Category

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Source: Institutional Investor.

The territory was referred to as Hong Kong before July 1, 1997.


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This paper was prepared for the first annual IMF Research Conference, November 9–10, 2000. Barry Eichengreen is at the University of California at Berkeley, and Ashoka Mody is in the Research Department of the IMF. The authors thank Galina Hale and Antu Murshid for research assistance, Olivier Jeanne and Jeromin Zettelmeyer for help with data, and Charles Adams for comments.


We also provide some evidence on the effects of official guarantees and credit enhancements, which have been suggested by Corrigan (2000) as a way of encouraging the private provision of new credit to crisis countries. That evidence is limited, however, by the relatively small number of such guarantees in our data set.


There are exceptions: a few U.S.-style bonds provide for amendments of payment terms with the approval of a qualified majority of bondholders. And most do not require unanimous consent to changes in their nonfinancial terms, as the case of Ecuador has recently demonstrated. We return to this case below.


Typically a majority is 75 percent. Some covenants provide for lowering the necessary quorum to 25 percent if 75 percent of the bondholders cannot be reached.


U.K. bonds governed by trustee deed agreements, but not those involving fiscal agents, generally prohibit individual bondholders from initiating litigation. The power to do so is vested with the trustee, acting on the instruction of creditors holding a specified fraction, typically at least 25 percent of the principal, who is required to distribute any funds recovered in proportion to the principal amount.


This was suggested in 1996 by the Group of Ten (G-10) in its post-Mexico report (G-10, 1996) and echoed in a series of recent Group of Twenty-Two (G-22) and Group of Seven (G-7) reports and declarations (G-22, 1998; G-7, 1999). The G-7 then placed the issue on its work program for reforming the international financial system with the goal of reaching a consensus by the Cologne Summit in June 1999. Two recent discussions of the operation of such provisions are Yanni (1999) and Drage and Mann (1999).


Countries that attach a high value to maintaining market access would be free to take the extreme measures needed to keep current on their debts, while restructuring would now be viable for countries that lack the same capacity to adjust and that therefore attach priority to obtaining a reduction in debt-servicing costs. Countries that value a well-defined seniority structure could choose to restructure junior debts while leaving senior debts untouched. Limited IMF lending into arrears would become feasible if renegotiation-friendly provisions in loan contracts could be used to avert a major financial drain and extended loss of market access.


As The Economist put it in a leader, “the prospect of an orderly renegotiation rather than a messy default might actually make some bonds more attractive” (Economist, 1999, p. 21).


As William Rhodes has put it, “Approaches by the official sector to force the insertion of bankruptcy clauses into sovereign bond issues could limit the demand for these instruments, and generally inhibit market access for those emerging market countries implementing correct reform policies” (Institute of International Finance, 1999a, p. 2).


“Exit consents” involve changes in the nonfinancial terms of the bond to make it less attractive for maverick investors to hold out.


UDROPs should probably be thought of as complements to rather than substitutes for collective action clauses. UDROPs are designed for liquidity crises whose resolution requires only a temporary breathing space until confidence returns, and collective action clauses are designed for solvency problems that require write-downs and restructurings.


Just as it may be in the collective interest of the depositors to sit tight but in their individual interest to queue up at the bank as soon as they see a line being formed—given the bank’s rule of first come, first served—it can be in the collective interest of a country’s creditors to roll over their maturing claims but in their individual interest to scramble for the exits if they see other creditors doing likewise—given that the limited availability of foreign reserves similarly creates a sequential service constraint. In the domestic bank run context, deposit insurance and, historically, temporary suspensions of the convertibility of deposits into currency are designed to alter these incentives and attenuate their effects. Deposit insurance minimizes the incentive for depositors to run. Temporary suspensions of convertibility allowed banks to avoid having to close down as a result of depositor runs and therefore of having to incur the associated costs. UDROPs are designed to mimic this function in the international setting. They would give the debtor a breathing space of, say, three months, a period of time assumed to be sufficient for the restoration of investor confidence and the resumption of business as usual. They obviate the need to declare a costly default.


Canadian officials have subsequently elaborated somewhat more modest versions of the proposal (Murray, 2000), as have their British counterparts.


In their 1999 report on strengthening the international financial architecture, G-7 governments argued that “in exceptional cases, countries may impose capital or exchange controls as part of payments suspensions or standstills, in conjunction with IMF support for their policies and programs, to provide time for an orderly debt restructuring” (G-7, 1999, para. 50).


The IMF has long suggested that fears of legal action may be exaggerated, both because it is costly and because the assets that can be seized are limited. But while the absence of legal action in connection with the recent debt exchanges of Ukraine, Pakistan, and Ecuador confirms that litigation is not inevitable, the recent Elliott case against Peru (in which an investment fund attempted to attach a government’s payments to other creditors) suggests that neither the excessive-cost nor the inadequate-assets-to-seize argument is necessarily correct.


Article VIII.2(b) presently provides that “exchange contracts which involve the currency of any member and which are contrary to the exchange control regulations of that member maintained or imposed consistently with this Agreement shall be unenforceable in the territories of any member.” In other words, Article VIII.2(b) gives sanction to certain types of exchange controls. The shareholders in the Fund could agree to amend Article VIII.2(b) to make clear that it applies to capital as well as exchange controls, when the former were applied under extenuating circumstances. This would require approval by at least 50 percent of the member countries, which together held 85 percent of the total member countries. Alternatively, the Executive Board could give the article a new, definitive interpretation consistent with this broader coverage without taking a formal vote.


Other objections include the danger of contagion, if the declaration of a standstill by one country raises fears of the imposition of a standstill by another, and that the prospect of a standstill might only incite creditors to run to the exits more quickly in anticipation of its imposition. See Frankel and Roubini (2000).


This is most plausible if the crisis is of the pure-liquidity variety, in which case the country’s fundamental ability to pay would be unimpaired. Thus, Miller and Stiglitz (1999) and Miller and Zhang (2000) suggest that the existence of a “Super Chapter 11” that prevented creditors from engaging in a grab race in response to macroeconomic shocks might prevent adverse balance sheet effects from transforming the disturbance into a full-blown crisis. And knowing that a crisis is less likely to result, investors would be less inclined to launch the grab race in the first place. Borrowing costs, rather than rising, might fall.


That is, the (international financial institution) guarantor would agree to purchase the debt if the price fell to some set (strike) price below the issue price.


That is, when there is an “After you, Alphonse” problem.


Where information on characteristics of the issue or the issuing country was missing, we were forced to drop the bond in question. Out of an initial sample of 2,913 bonds, we were forced to drop 408 bonds because spreads are not reported (generally, these are bonds issued very early in the sample period) and 114 bonds because complementary information is not available.


Among the variables thereby obtained are the spread, maturity, and amount of each issue; whether it was privately placed; whether it was subject to a guarantee; whether the issuer was a private or governmental entity; whether the issue was denominated in dollars, yen, or deutsche marks; the industry of origin; whether the issuer was a sovereign, (other) public entity, or private sector issuer; and whether the interest rate was fixed or floating. We supplemented this with information on national and global macro-economic variables drawn from the IMF’s International Financial Statistics, The World Bank’s World Development Indicators, and national sources.


In an earlier paper (Eichengreen and Mody, 2000a), we analyzed the determinants of spreads in the international market for syndicated loans. One could imagine extending the analysis here to those instruments as well. Early critiques of proposals to bail in the private sector by, inter alia, pushing for the inclusion of collective action provisions in bond covenants (e.g., Institute of International Finance, 1996), were critical on the grounds that bank loans remained the principal vehicle for portfolio capital flows to emerging markets. With the subsequent decline of syndicated bank lending and the continued progress of securitization, this objection has clearly lost some of its force.


The advantage of the Institutional Investor data over the Moody’s/S&P ratings used by most previous authors is more complete country coverage and more regular publication (the data are biannual). Because Institutional Investor’s country credit rating is correlated with other issuer characteristics, to include it in the spreads equation, where many of these other issuer characteristics also appear, complicates interpretation. We therefore substituted the residual from a first-stage regression in which the credit rating was regressed on the ratio of debt to GNP, the debt rescheduling dummy, the ratio of reserves to GNP, the rate of GDP growth, and the variance of export growth. In addition to entering these variables in levels, we interacted them with a dummy variable for Latin America. Representative results are reported in Eichengreen and Mody (2000b); we suppress them here in the interest of space.


Ten-year rates are appropriate insofar as the term to maturity of the underlying asset is broadly similar to that on the bonds in our sample.


To conserve space, we do not discuss the estimator, the results of estimating the probit, or other coefficients in the spreads equation. See Eichengreen and Mody (2000b, 2000c) for details.


Among the prominent contributions to this literature are the following. Hajivassiliou (1987) finds a negative relationship between IMF involvement and the subsequent supply of new loans for a cross section of developing countries in the period 1970–82. Faini and others (1991) and Killick (1995) find the same for the 1980s. Rowlands (1994) disaggregates public and private flows and finds that private flows respond negatively, public flows positively. A recent study by Bird and Rowlands (1997) finds that the effect is unstable but, when significant, strongly negative. The one study of which we are aware of the impact of IMF programs not on gross or net capital flows but on spreads, by Özler (1993), finds a consistent positive impact, again inconsistent with the idea of a catalytic role. But Özler’s analysis is of syndicated bank loans, not bonds, and it is for an earlier period.


As explained in Section III, the probit equation for borrowing and the spreads equation are estimated simultaneously. We identify the borrowing equation by omitting the size of the issue, its maturity, and whether it is privately placed. The probit has variables not in the spreads equation: debt service/exports, short-term/total debt, and reserves/imports. Note that identification is also provided by the nonlinearity in the probit. These equations can be thought of as part of a larger system in which the decision to borrow, the amount borrowed, the maturity of the obligation, and its price are simultaneously determined. We have taken a step toward estimating that larger model in Eichengreen, Hale, and Mody (2001), where we analyze the determinants of issuance, maturity, and spreads as a system. As shown there, the other results reported in Tables 1 and 2 are largely unaffected by this extension.


The positive effect on access appears to hold whether we assume that the determinants of borrowing are the same across regions (as in the left-hand side of column 1) or allow them to differ between Latin America and other parts of the world (as on the right).


We attempt to pick up the effects of serial borrowing by continuing to count previous quarters of IMF involvement if a country drops out of and back into an IMF program.