Marcos Chamon, Julian Schumacher, Christoph Trebesch, 06 November 2018

Do investors care about the legal characteristics of sovereign debt? Focusing on the euro area, this column compares sovereign bonds issued under domestic law  to those issued under a foreign jurisdiction, which are harder to restructure in a debt crisis since they are out of reach of the borrowing country’s legislature. This legal protection means that foreign law bonds trade at a premium (with lower yields), but only in situations of severe distress such as Greece or Portugal in 2011/2012. In the midst of a crisis, governments can borrow more cheaply by issuing in foreign law. 

Jean Pisani-Ferry, Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 20 August 2018

The proposed package of reforms from the team of French and German economists aimed at increasing the stability of the euro area has sparked a lively debate on Vox. In this column, two of the paper’s authors respond to some of the criticisms of their proposals, focusing on the broad issues of debt restructuring as ‘ultima ratio’ and regulating banks’ sovereign exposures.

Andrew Watt, 23 April 2018

There is currently both an economic and a political window of opportunity for reform in the euro area. This column, which forms part of VoxEU's Euro Area Reform debate, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals in the recent CEPR Policy Insight and makes recommendations for extensions and alternatives.

Emmanuel Farhi, Philippe Martin, 19 April 2018

One criticism of the recent CEPR Policy Insight on euro area reform is its supposed silence on the role of the ECB. In this column,  which we add to VoxEU's Euro Area Reform debate, two of the authors of the Policy Insight argue that the reforms proposed in it actually have significant implications for the ECB’s role, in a way that would make it easier for the ECB to fulfill its mandate.

Guido Tabellini, 23 November 2017

In the debate on European reforms, a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism for the Eurozone is often proposed. This column argues that such a mechanism is not required. Instead, Eurozone member states should issue GDP-linked bonds, which would enact an implicit seniority structure on their sovereign debt and make the Eurozone more resilient to the next crisis.

Marcus Miller, Sayantan Ghosal, 17 April 2017

Lacking some supra-national, overseeing authority, sovereigns in default typically renegotiate with their creditors. In these negotiations, the owed principal typically receives a ‘haircut’. This column explores whether overburdened sovereign debtors can strategically leverage delay as they bargain with their creditors. Under asymmetric information, a delay in the form of offers that the debtor knows won’t be accepted can work out in the debtor’s favour. The findings suggest that strategic delay can be used to show where restructuring is necessary.

Charles Wyplosz, 01 August 2016

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.

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.

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