International finance

Avinash Persaud, 01 April 2021

The servicing and rolling over of the public and private debt of middle-income countries is a major point of COVID-19-induced stress in the global economy. The G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative is a worthy initiative, but it does not address this issue. This column outlines three related steps that may help avoid a crisis. The centre-piece is recycling new and unused Special Drawing Rights for debt reduction through the repayment or repurchase of debt. Moral hazard can be addressed by reducing only those debts held by official creditors and up to an amount equal to fiscal expenditures relating to natural disasters – COVID-19 and climate change, principal amongst them.  

Clemens Graf von Luckner, Josefin Meyer, Carmen Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, 30 March 2021

Today, more than half of low-income countries eligible for relief under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative are either in debt distress or at high risk. Several emerging markets have either recently restructured (Argentina and Ecuador) or remain in default (Lebanon, Surinam, and Venezuela). In this context, this column reviews some of the features of external sovereign debt restructurings. It shows that default spells are lengthy and that the road to debt-crisis resolution is often littered with serial restructuring agreements.  

Lorenzo Forni, Philip Turner, 15 January 2021

Dollar bond issuance by non-US companies has dominated foreign borrowing since the global crisis. In many emerging markets, higher leverage and currency mismatches have increased the risk of corporate insolvencies and created new threats to the balance sheets of local banks. This column documents the financial risks created by these recent trends and outlines the necessary implications for regulatory policy. In addition to regulation, financial fragilities have added to demands for fiscal stimulus and led some emerging market central banks to ease monetary policy by buying government bonds, creating new links with fiscal policy. 

Barry Eichengreen, Balazs Csonto, Asmaa El-Ganainy, Zsoka Koczan, 14 January 2021

Global inequality has fallen in recent decades, but within-country inequality has risen in a significant number of national economies during the same period.  This column identifies the channels through which financial globalisation accentuates inequality and suggests how these could be mitigated by accompanying policies.  

Mattia Di Ubaldo, Michael Gasiorek, 05 January 2021

Preferential trade agreements increasingly feature non-trade provisions whose impact on foreign direct investment is yet to be explored. This column exploits a structural gravity setting to study how preferential trade agreement provisions related to civil and political rights, economic and social rights, and environmental protection may affect the flow of bilateral greenfield foreign direct investment. It finds that all three types of non-trade related provisions affect FDI negatively. The largest effects are estimated for FDI directed ‘South’ (to middle- and low-income countries), and between ‘South-South’ countries in particular.

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