The German Council of Economic Advisors recently proposed a mechanism for the orderly restructuring of sovereign debt in the Eurozone. This column argues that the proposal suffers from some inherent weaknesses. The proposal builds on logical errors and embeds well-established ideas in a setup that suffers from serious limitations. It also neglects alternative strategies that favour targeting large debts as soon as possible.
Charles Wyplosz, 01 August 2016
Andrea Consiglio, Stavros Zenios, 02 January 2016
Contingent debt has been gaining ground as a tool for banking stability. This column argues for the advantages of sovereign debt with a contingent payment standstill. Sovereign contingent debt would have instigated early responses for Eurozone crisis countries ranging from a couple of months (Ireland) to almost two years (Cyprus). Pricing simulations illustrate how this financial innovation creates appropriate incentives for sovereigns and addresses creditor moral hazard. Using contingent debt for Greece, we illustrate that the country’s debt profile can improve significantly.
Sebastian Edwards, 04 March 2015
There were 24 sovereign defaults and debt restructurings between 1997 and 2013. Using data on 180 debt restructurings – for both sovereign bonds and sovereign syndicated bank loans – this column argues that the roughly 75% ‘haircut’ Argentina imposed on its creditors in 2005 was an outlier. Greece’s ‘haircut’ of roughly 64% in 2012, by contrast, was in line with previous experience.
Miranda Xafa, 25 June 2014
The 2012 Greek debt restructuring was the largest one in the history of sovereign defaults. This column discusses the lessons from this historically unprecedented episode. Delaying the restructuring implied that externally held debt remained higher than it would have been otherwise. Supportive crisis management is necessary for smooth restructuring to take place in a currency union.
Roel Beetsma, Konstantinos Mavromatis, 21 December 2012
Are Eurobonds a desirable solution to Eurozone members’ debt crises? Unhappily, it’s difficult to say. This column argues it very much depends on how the system is designed. However, looking at the most prominent proposals, it seems a cleverly designed Eurobonds system may well provide governments with the right incentives to encourage both issuing less debt and pursuing meaningful structural reform.
Charles Wyplosz, 26 November 2012
For the euro to survive, the recession must be halted without piling on more debt. This column argues that the unpalatable conclusion is that public debts must be written down. The massive moral hazard problem this will cause must be dealt with by making sure that public debts will never again be allowed to grow to unsustainable levels. To this end, decentralised US-style fiscal discipline is needed.
Willem Buiter, 20 February 2012
Willem Buiter talks to Viv Davies about Greece and the Eurozone. Buiter believes that Greece’s public debt should be written off, it’s banks recapitalised and that the country be provided with sufficient conditional support to grow its economy. They discuss the LTROs and the risks of loss of control over the aggregate size of the balance sheet and potential national central bank insolvencies. Buiter suggests that now is not the time for self-righteousness amongst European policymakers. The interview was recorded on 17 Feb 2012. [Also read the transcript]
Paolo Manasse, 02 December 2011
Paolo Manasse talks to Viv Davies about Italy and the Eurozone crisis. They discuss the economic and political challenges currently facing Italy, how a eurozone fiscal union might work in practice and the role of eurobonds. Manasse explains the trade-off between addressing sovereign debt in the peripheral economies and establishing broader financial stability across the Eurozone; he maintains that an expansionary ECB monetary policy is an important part of the solution. The interview was recorded on 30 November 2011. [Also read the transcript]
Harry Huizinga, 18 November 2011
Harry Huizinga talks to Viv Davies about his recent paper on the EFSF. Huizinga concludes that the creation of the EFSF has resulted in the bail out of both banks and countries, that the use of EFSF funds has been expensive and inefficient, and that there is a limit to the extent to which the EFSF can be scaled up. Nevertheless, he suggests that this may be a blessing in disguise. The interview was recorded on 17 November 2012.
Dimitri Vayanos, 11 November 2011
Dimitri Vayanos of the London School of Economics talks to Viv Davies about Greece and the eurozone crisis, and argues that leaving the euro would be a disaster for both Greece and Europe. They discuss the bailout package, the appointment of Lucas Papademos as Prime Minister and the benefits of a coalition government of technocrats. Vayanos maintains that the emphasis for Greece should be on deeper institutional and structural reforms. The interview was recorded on 10 November 2011.
Charles Wyplosz, 04 November 2011
Greek Prime Minister Papandreou made a stand this week. Even though he was backed down, this column argues that he did the EZ a favour by providing an opportunity to change course. One way or another, a disorderly Greek default is in the cards with its attendant contagion. At that point a real solution is inevitable – one that requires EZ leaders and the ECB to play on the same side with credible rules for all.
Juan José Cruces, Christoph Trebesch, 13 October 2011
What are the financial costs of a sovereign default? This column presents new data on investor losses – haircuts – in all sovereign debt restructurings between 1970 and 2010. Countries imposing high haircuts take significantly longer to reaccess capital markets after the event and subsequently pay higher interest rates.
Marco Onado, 02 September 2011
Growing pessimism and a spread of contagion is still haunting the Eurozone. This column argues that if the crisis moves beyond Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, no capital injection can reassure markets about possible losses on a few big Eurozone countries. What is needed is a credible restructuring of the debt of peripheral countries to ring-fence the damage.
Guido Tabellini, 15 July 2011
The Eurozone crisis is tearing Europe apart. This column argues that Eurozone leaders must (i) agree to create European-level institutions to monitor national budget and banking policies and (ii) draw a line between solvent and insolvent Eurozone nations before the markets do it for them. It adds that we are now discovering that a loss of sovereignty became inevitable the day we decided to create the single currency.
Paolo Manasse, 05 February 2011
Recent press reports suggest that Greece and Ireland may be allowed to buy back some of their debt. This column provides an example to show that if the purpose of the restructuring is to reduce the burden of payments for the debtor and to have creditors share the losses, a unilateral partial default or a debt swap would be preferable to a buyback.
Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 26 November 2010
The bailout of the Irish government has turned up the heat on Europe’s leaders. This column argues that it is time for a serious debate over one possible solution: A European Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism.