Staff Report 410

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Default and the Maturity Structure in Sovereign Bonds

Cristina Arellano - Senior Research Economist
Ananth Ramanarayanan

Revised October 11, 2013

Abstract
This paper studies the maturity composition and the term structure of interest rate spreads of government debt in emerging markets. In the data, when interest rate spreads rise, debt maturity shortens and the spread on short-term bonds rises more than the spread on long-term bonds. To account for this pattern, we build a dynamic model of international borrowing with endogenous default and multiple maturities of debt. Long-term debt provides a hedge against future fluctuations in interest rate spreads, while short-term debt is more effective at providing incentives to repay. The trade-off between these hedging and incentive benefits is quantitatively important for understanding the maturity structure in emerging markets. When calibrated to data from Brazil, the model accounts for the dynamics in the maturity of debt issuances and its comovement with the level of spreads across maturities.


Published In: Journal of Political Economy (Vol. 120, No. 2, 2012, pp. 187-232)

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