Illiquidity in Sovereign Debt Markets

57 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2018 Last revised: 6 Dec 2020

See all articles by Juan Passadore

Juan Passadore

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Yu Xu

University of Delaware

Date Written: December 5, 2020


We study sovereign debt and default policies when credit and liquidity risk are jointly determined. To account for both types of risks we focus on an economy with incomplete markets, limited commitment, and search frictions in the secondary market for sovereign bonds. We quantify the effect of liquidity on sovereign spreads and welfare by performing quantitative exercises when our model is calibrated to match key features of the Argentinean default in 2001. From a positive point of view, we find (a) that a substantial portion of sovereign spreads is due to a liquidity premium, and (b) the liquidity premium helps to resolve the "credit spread puzzle," by generating high mean spreads while maintaining a low default frequency. From a normative point of view, we find that reductions in secondary market frictions improve welfare.

Keywords: Credit Risk, Liquidity Risk, Sovereign Debt, Open Economies

JEL Classification: D83, E32, E43, E44, F34, G12, O11

Suggested Citation

Passadore, Juan and Xu, Yu, Illiquidity in Sovereign Debt Markets (December 5, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Juan Passadore

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )

Via Due Macelli, 73
Rome, 00187

Yu Xu (Contact Author)

University of Delaware ( email )

Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics
Newark, DE 19716
United States

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