International finance

Viral Acharya, Raghuram Rajan, Jack Shim, 16 June 2020

While many theories of international borrowing emphasize its advantages, it has proven difficult to empirically establish a correlation between a developing country’s use of foreign financing and good outcomes such as stronger growth. This column proposes a theoretical framework that reconciles the above puzzle. It establishes that a developing country’s propensity to save is essential in determining whether the government’s ability to borrow in international markets is welfare improving for its citizens or not. Hence, debt is not always 'odious' and alternative policies such as debt ceilings may prove more useful, especially in the midst of the current pandemic.

Pauline Gandré, Mike Mariathasan, Ouarda Merrouche, Steven Ongena, 30 May 2020

Managing global financial risks requires coordinated policies and a firm commitment by national actors. In the absence of such commitment, risks are reallocated and concentrate where they are least effectively addressed. Using data on the staggered implementation of the G20’s global derivatives market reform, this column documents US banks’ response to reform progress. It finds that banks shift trading activities towards less regulated jurisdictions and adopt riskier portfolios overall. The effects are driven by agenda items – like the promotion of central clearing – that are costly and do not benefit banks directly.

Alicia García-Herrero, Elina Ribakova, 21 May 2020

The spread of COVID-19 and its associated impacts have again brought into focus the dependence of emerging market economies on external financing. This column analyses the factors that put emerging economies at an increased risk of a sudden reduction in dollar liquidity as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on this analysis, it reviews the key tools at the disposal of emerging economies, the Fed, and the IMF to address this problem. It concludes by offering some policy recommendations on the pecking order that could be followed to potentially shield the emerging economies from the dollar shortage problems related to COVID-19.

Sebastian Horn, Carmen Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, 04 May 2020

COVID-19 is wreaking economic havoc, and its most severe consequences are likely to be felt in the developing world. Recession, depressed commodity prices, collapsing cross-border trade, and a flight to safety in financial markets have set the stage for a replay of the 1930s and 1980s debt crises. This column presents insights from a comprehensive new dataset on China’s overseas lending and shows that developing countries are much more indebted to China than previously known. Any effort to provide meaningful debt relief to the most vulnerable countries must encompass the debts owed to China.

Silvia Marchesi, Tania Masi, 04 May 2020

As a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, which will hit certain countries particularly hard (including those with official creditors), there may be a wave of debt restructuring over the next few years. This column argues that the specific characteristics of sovereign debt re-negotiations are important. In particular, it focuses on the link between sovereign restructurings and ratings, an issue that is of relevance but that has not received enough attention in recent research. 

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