Are We Heading for Another Debt Crisis in Low-Income Countries? Debt Vulnerabilities: Today vs the pre-HIPC Era


Chuku Chuku ; Prateek Samal ; Joyce Saito ; Dalia S Hakura ; Marcos d Chamon ; Martin D. Cerisola ; Guillaume Chabert ; Jeromin Zettelmeyer

Publication Date:

April 4, 2023

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


There are growing concerns that 25 years after the launch of the HIPC debt relief initiative, many low-income countries are again facing high debt vulnerabilities. This paper compares debt vulnerabilities in LICs today versus those on the eve of the HIPC Initiative and examines challenges to a similarly designed debt-relief framework. While solvency and liquidity indicators in most LICs have steadily worsened in recent years, they remain substantially better on average than they were on the eve of HIPC in the mid-1990s. This said, if current trends persist, debt vulnerabilities in LICs could (but would not necessarily) reach levels comparable to the pre-HIPC era over the medium- to long-term. Today’s more complex creditor landscape makes coordination challenging. It is therefore essential for countries to reduce today’s debt burdens promptly through economic reform, lowering the cost of financing, and debt restructuring on a case-by-case basis. The international community should also step up efforts to improve debt restructuring processes, including the G20 Common Framework, to ensure that debt relief is delivered in a timely and efficient manner where it is needed.


Working Paper No. 2023/079




Publication Date:

April 4, 2023



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