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Models of Sovereign Debt: Partial vs. General Reputations

Harold L. Cole - Consultant
Patrick J. Kehoe

Published March 1, 1997

Abstract
Bulow and Rogoff (1989b) show that as long as governments can earn the market rate of return by saving abroad, standard reputation models cannot support debt. We argue that these standard reputation models are partial in the sense that actions of agents in one arena affect reputation in that arena only. We develop a general model of reputation in which if a government is viewed as untrustworthy in one relationship, this government will be viewed as untrustworthy in other relationships. We show that our general model of reputation can support large amounts of debt.


Published In: International Economic Review (Vol. 39, No. 1, February 1998, pp. 55-70)

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