Working Papers

2006-05 | February 2005

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Sovereign Debt, Volatility, and Insurance

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External debt increases the vulnerability of indebted emerging market economies to macroeconomic volatility and financial crises. Capital account reversals often lead sovereign debt repayment crises that are only resolved after prolonged and difficult debt restructuring. Foreign indebtedness exacerbates domestic financial distress in crisis, increasing both the incidence and severity of emerging market crises. These outcomes contrast with the presumption that access to international capital markets should help countries to smooth domestic consumption and investment against macroeconomic shocks. This paper uses models of sovereign to reconsider the role of sovereign debt renegotiation for international risk sharing and presents an approach for analyzing contractual innovations for implementing contingent debt repayments. The financial innovations that might allow risk-sharing rather than risk-inducing capital flows go beyond contractual changes that ease debt renegotiation by separating contingent payments from bonds.

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