Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Essays on the politics of sovereign debt markets
by Nelson, Rebecca Marie, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2009, 189; 3385553
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past 40 years, private creditors have been the primary source of portfolio capital for developing countries, and capital flows from private creditors to developing countries have increased dramatically. The flow of capital to developing countries presents opportunities; creditors have new investment opportunities, and developing countries are able to finance investment and consumption. But financial integration has also posed challenges. Most developing countries still cannot borrow in international capital markets, and creditors have difficulty recovering investments after governments default due to lack of enforcement of international debt contracts.

This dissertation presents three essays that examine how politics shape interactions between developing countries and private creditors in the market for sovereign lending. The first essay considers the international allocation of credit. Existing research argues that democracies are more creditworthy than autocracies, but empirical tests have failed to discover such a “democratic advantage.” Using a panel dataset of more than 130 developing countries between 1980 and 2000, I show that creditors are more likely to lend to democracies than autocracies.

The second essay examines a government's decision to repay its debt or default. Developing countries with close ties to developed countries expect to be bailed out after default and expectations of a bailout increase the likelihood of default. Using a panel dataset of more than 100 developing countries between 1975 and 2004, I show that developing countries with political and economic ties to developed countries are more likely to default and are more likely to secure debt relief after defaulting than other developing countries.

The third essay analyzes debt restructuring after default. Using a game theoretic model, I show how high domestic political costs of adjustment result in favorable restructurings. I argue that mixed regimes are particularly fragile and pay higher costs of adjustment than either full-fledged democracies or autocracies. Using a new dataset on debt reschedulings during the 1980s debt crisis, I find evidence that creditors provide favorable restructuring terms to mixed regimes. Overall, the dissertation demonstrates how specific political factors affect creditor-debtor interactions in sovereign debt markets.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Frieden, Jeffry
School: Harvard University
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, International Relations, Political science
Keywords: Debt crises, International political economy, Portfolio capital, Sovereign debt
Publication Number: 3385553
ISBN: 9781109494655
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