Daily Archives: February 4, 2016

IMF WP: Do countries pay an interest rate premium for having defaulted in the past?

We re-assess the view that sovereigns with a history of default are charged only a small and/or short-lived premium on the interest rate warranted by observed fundamentals. Our reassessment uses a metric of such a “default premium” (DP) that is consistent with asymmetric information models and nests previous metrics, and applies it to a much broader dataset relative to earlier studies. We find a sizeable and persistent DP: in 1870-1938, it averaged 250 bps upon market re-entry, tapering to around 150 bps five years out; in 1970- 2011 the respective estimates are about 400 and 200 bps. We also find that: (i) these estimates are robust to many controls including on actual haircuts; (ii) the DP accounts for as much as 60% of the sovereign spread within five years of market re-entry; (iii) the DP rises with market exclusion spells. These findings help reconnect theory and evidence on why sovereign defaults are infrequent and earlier debt settlements are desirable.

Read the full paper here