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Renegotiation Policies in Sovereign Defaults

Staff Report 495 | Published January 10, 2014

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Cristina Arellano Assistant Director, Policy and Monetary Advisor
Yan Bai University of Rochester, NBER, and CEPR
Renegotiation Policies in Sovereign Defaults


This paper studies an optimal renegotiation protocol designed by a benevolent planner when two countries renegotiate with the same lender. The solution calls for recoveries that induce each country to default or repay, trading off the deadweight costs and the redistribution benefits of default independently of the other country. This outcome contrasts with a decentralized bargaining solution where default in one country increases the likelihood of default in the second country because recoveries are lower when both countries renegotiate. The paper suggests that policies geared at designing renegotiation processes that treat countries in isolation can prevent contagion of debt crises.

Published in: _American Economic Review_ (Vol. 104, No. 5, May 2014, pp. 94-100)