Assessing Bias and Accuracy in the World Bank-IMF's Debt Sustainability Framework for Low-Income Countries
40 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2014
Date Written: March 2014
The World Bank and the IMF have adopted a debt sustainability framework (DSF) to evaluate the risk of debt distress in Low Income Countries (LICs). At the core of the DSF are empirically-based thresholds for each of five different measures of the debt burden (the “debt threshold approach” DTA). The DSF contains a rule for aggregating the information contained in these five different variables which we label the “worst-case aggregator” (WCA) in view of the fact that the DSF considers a breach of any one of the thresholds sufficient to indicate a high risk of debt distress. However, neither the DTA nor the WCA has heretofore been subject to empirical testing. We find that: (1) the DTA loses information relative to a simple proposed alternative; (2) the WCA is too conservative (predicting crises too often) in terms of the loss function used in the DSF; and (3) the WCA is less accurate than some simple proposed alternative aggregators as a predictor ofdebt distress.
Keywords: Debt sustainability analysis, Low-income developing countries, Debt burden, Sovereign debt, Financial crisis, Economic models, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, DSF, IMF, Sovereign debt crises, debt thresholds, external debt, ratio of debt, debt relief, debt stock, debt crisis, debt ratios, ratio of debt service to exports, currency crises, sovereign default, actual debt, public debt, long-term debt sustainability, external shocks, external debt sustainability, liquidity crises, foreign aid, debt relief initiative, currency crisis, amount of debt, external public debt, multilateral debt relief, debt problems, international lending, probability of debt crisis, external liabilities, low
JEL Classification: F33, F34, F35, O11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation