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Uncertainty Premia, Sovereign Default Risk, and State-Contingent Debt

Francisco Roch and Francisco Roldán

No 2021/076, IMF Working Papers from International Monetary Fund

Abstract: We analyze how concerns for model misspecification on the part of international lenders affect the desirability of issuing state-contingent debt instruments in a standard sovereign default model à la Eaton and Gersovitz (1981). We show that for the commonly used threshold state-contingent bond structure (e.g., the GDP-linked bond issued by Argentina in 2005), the model with robustness generates ambiguity premia in bond spreads that can explain most of what the literature has labeled as novelty premium. While the government would be better off with this bond when facing rational expectations lenders, this additional source of premia leads to welfare losses when facing robust lenders. Finally, we characterize the optimal design of the state-contingent bond and show how it varies with the level of robustness. Our findings rationalize the little use of these instruments in practice and shed light on their optimal design.

Keywords: Sovereign debt; default; state-contingent debt instruments; robust control; ambiguity premia; probability distortion; robust lender; State-contingent debt; ambiguity aversion; debt structure; threshold bond; Bonds; Debt default; Rational expectations; Asset prices (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38
Date: 2021-03-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dge, nep-mac and nep-upt
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