(At Least) Four Theories for Sovereign Default

66 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2018

See all articles by Markus Eberhardt

Markus Eberhardt

University of Nottingham - Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP)

Date Written: July 2018

Abstract

Why do some sovereigns repay their debts while others default? I empirically study four theories for default (or its avoidance): (i) reputation, (ii) punishment, (iii) domestic politics, and (iv) international spillovers. Running horse races for a large sample of developing and emerging economies (1970-2015) I find that reputation and spillover effects dominate in terms of economic significance; there is less convincing evidence for punishment effects or political factors. In robustness checks I allow for the transmission of each theory strand through macro-fundamentals, account for capital controls, debt relief, and capital flow bonanzas, investigate domestic, private and present-value external debt, and conduct sample splitting exercises (by exchange rate arrangement, political regime, financial development, and time period). Though they provide more refined insights into the differential mechanisms at work, none of these exercises substantially alter the above conclusions.

Keywords: early warning system, International Capital Markets, Politics, public debt, punishment, reputation, sovereign default, Spillovers

JEL Classification: F34, F41, G15, H63

Suggested Citation

Eberhardt, Markus, (At Least) Four Theories for Sovereign Default (July 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13084, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3222598

Markus Eberhardt (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham - Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP) ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

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