DP4901 | Structuring and Restructuring Sovereign Debt: The Role of Seniority

Publication Date

23/02/2005

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Abstract

In an environment characterized by weak contractual enforcement, sovereign lenders can enhance the likelihood of repayment by making their claims more difficult to restructure. We show within a simple model how competition for repayment between lenders may result in sovereign debt that is excessively difficult to restructure in equilibrium. Alleviating this inefficiency requires a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism that fulfills some of the functions of corporate bankruptcy regimes, in particular the enforcement of seniority and subordination clauses in debt contracts.