Debt Dilution and Sovereign Default Risk


Leonardo Martinez ; Juan Carlos Hatchondo ; Cesar Sosa Padilla

Publication Date:

March 1, 2011

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


We propose a modification to a baseline sovereign default framework that allows us to quantify the importance of debt dilution in accounting for the level and volatility of the interest rate spread paid by sovereigns. We measure the effects of debt dilution by comparing the simulations of the baseline model (with debt dilution) with the ones of the modified model without dilution. We calibrate the baseline model to mimic the mean and standard deviation of the spread, as well as the external debt level, the mean debt duration and a measure of default frequency in the data. We find that, even without commitment to future repayment policies and withoutcontingency of sovereign debt, if the sovereign could eliminate debt dilution, the number of default per 100 years decreases from 3.10 to 0.42. The mean spread decreases from 7.38% to 0.57%. The standard deviation of the spread decreases from 2.45 to 0.72. Default risk falls in part because of a reduction of the level of sovereign debt (36% of the face value and of 11% of the market value). But we show that the most important effect of dilution on default risk results from a shift in the set of government's borrowing opportunities. Our analysis is also relevant for the study of other credit markets where the debt dilution problem could be present.


Working Paper No. 11/70



Publication Date:

March 1, 2011



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