Sovereign Debt Maturity Structure and Its Costs

47 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2019

Date Written: November 6, 2018


I propose a theoretical model of a debt contract between a sovereign and its international lenders that determines the optimal debt maturity structure and related costs. It is shaped by two financial frictions: limited liability (the country cannot guarantee that it will not dilute its obligations or default on them) and market incompleteness (only non-contingent assets can be issued). I find that, in equilibrium, debt dilution constrains the amount of long-term debt issuance. I then focus on two aspects that are currently widely debated in both academic and policy fora: the possibility of sovereign debt restructuring with private creditors and international official lending in the event of exclusion from the international capital markets. The possibility of restructuring after default stimulates long-term debt issuance. However, in equilibrium, the proposed crisis management tools are unable to loosen the constraint on long-term debt issuance. Consistently with the empirical literature, I find that even when these policy options for crisis resolution are available, the country tends to issue mainly short-term debt.

Keywords: sovereign debt, optimal maturity, strategic default, crisis management, lender of last resort

JEL Classification: E43, F33, G15, H63

Suggested Citation

Corneli, Flavia, Sovereign Debt Maturity Structure and Its Costs (November 6, 2018). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 1196, Available at SSRN: or

Flavia Corneli (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

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