DP459 | The Price of LDC Debt

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We study the behaviour of secondary market prices for the debt of seven LDCs for the period March 1986 through November 1989 (monthly data). These prices for long-term debt appear to be driven by a set of `common factors' across countries. One of these is the interest rate, Libor; we found a unit elasticity w.r.t. Libor for the average (across countries) price and for pooled data. The other `common factors' are not correlated with world macro variables, and we call these factors common only to the indebted countries the `systemic risk'. We then study the price of long-term debt relative to that of short-term debt (data for three major countries). The price of short-term debt is influenced neither by `systemic risk' nor by economic factors specific to the debtor country; we conjecture it is driven by local political risk. The results suggest that when it is serviced, long-term debt payments reflect the country's resources (export prices). The decision to service is contingent upon servicing short-term debt and on `systemic risk', which appears not to be a risk of `once-for-all' default but rather a milder form that simply alters on a period-by-period basis, but never irrevocably, the incentive of debtors to service their debt.