Western Hemisphere > Belize

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Mr. Jochen R. Andritzky and Julian Schumacher
Sovereign debt restructurings are perceived as inflicting large losses to bondholders. However, many bonds feature high coupons and often exhibit strong post-crisis recoveries. To account for these aspects, we analyze the long-term returns of sovereign bonds during 32 crises since 1998, taking into account losses from bond exchanges as well as profits before and after such events. We show that the average excess return over risk-free rates in crises with debt restructuring is not significantly lower than the return on bonds in crises without restructuring. Returns differ considerably depending on the investment strategy: Investors who sell during crises fare much worse than buy-and-hold investors or investors entering the market upon signs of distress
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Mr. Marcos d Chamon, Aitor Erce, and Akira Sasahara
Sovereign debt restructurings are associated with declines in GDP, investment, bank credit, and capital flows. The transmission channels and associated output and banking sector costs depend on whether the restructuring takes place preemptively, without missing payments to creditors, or whether it takes place after a default has occurred. Post-default restructurings are associated with larger declines in bank credit, an increase in lending interest rates, and a higher likelihood of triggering a banking crisis than pre-emptive restructurings. Our local projection estimates show large declines in GDP, investment, and credit amplified by severe sudden stops and transmitted through a “capital inflow-credit channel”.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Mr. Michael G. Papaioannou, Eriko Togo, and Mr. Bert van Selm
This paper examines the causes, processes, and outcomes of Belize’s 2016–17 sovereign debt restructuring—its third episode in last 10 years. As was the case in the earlier two restructurings, in 2006–07 and in 2012–13, the 2016–17 debt restructuring was executed through collaborative engagement with creditors outside an IMF-supported program. While providing liquidity relief and partially addressing long-term debt sustainability concerns, the restructuring will need to be underpinned by ambitious fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing structural reforms to secure durable gains.
Mr. Krishna Srinivasan, Ms. Inci Ötker, Ms. Uma Ramakrishnan, and Mr. Trevor Serge Coleridge Alleyne

Abstract

This book provides a diagnosis of the central economic and financial challenges facing Caribbean policymakers and offers broad policy recommendations for promoting a sustained and inclusive increase in economic well-being. The analysis highlights the need for Caribbean economies to make a concerted effort to break the feedback loops between weak macroeconomic fundamentals, notably pertaining to fiscal positions and financial sector strains, and structural impediments, such as high electricity costs, limited financial deepening, violent crime, and brain drain, which have depressed private investment and growth. A recurring theme in the book is the need for greater regional coordination in finding solutions to address the Caribbean’s shared and intertwined macroeconomic and structural challenges. The analysis suggests that strengthening regional and global market integration of Caribbean economies would provide an impetus to sustained growth in incomes and jobs. Greater regional and global economic integration would also facilitate structural transformation and a shift toward new economic activities, resulting in more diversified and less vulnerable economies. A central challenge for the Caribbean is thus to come together as a region, overcome the limitations posed by size, and garner the benefits of globalization. Efforts should build on existing regional arrangements; accelerating progress in implementing these agreements would stimulate trade. Policymakers could also promote deeper integration with Latin America and the rest of the world by pursuing new trade agreements, leveraging current agreements more effectively, or deepening them to include areas beyond traditional trade issues, and developing port and transport infrastructure.

Ahmed El-Ashram
The question of how scaling up public investment could affect fiscal and debt sustainability is key for countries needing to fill infrastructure gaps and build resilience. This paper proposes a bottom-up approach to assess large public investments that are potentially self-financing and reflect their impact in macro-fiscal projections that underpin the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis Framework. Using the case of energy sector investments in Caribbean countries, the paper shows how to avoid biases against good projects that pay off over long horizons and ensure that transformative investments are not sacrificed to myopic assessments of debt sustainability risks. The approach is applicable to any macro-critical investment for which user fees can cover financing costs and which has the potential to raise growth without crowding-out.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Gerardo Peraza, Kristine Vitola, and Mr. Takahiro Tsuda
This paper examines the causes, processes, and outcomes of the two Belize sovereign debt restructurings in 2006–07 and in 2012–13 that occurred outside of an IMF-supported program. It finds that the motivation for the two debt restructurings differed, as the former was driven by external liquidity concerns while the latter was motivated by a substantial increase in the coupon rates and future fiscal solvency concerns. Despite differential treatment between residents and non-residents, both 2006–07 and 2012–13 debt exchanges were executed through collaborative engagement, due in part to the existence of a broad-based creditor committee and the authorities’ effective communication strategy. However, while providing temporary liquidity relief, neither of the debt restructurings properly addressed long-term debt sustainability concerns. Going forward, the success of the 2012–13 debt restructuring will still depend on the country’s ability to strengthen fiscal efforts and public debt management framework.
Charles Amo Yartey and Ms. Therese Turner-Jones

Abstract

Caribbean economies face high and rising debt-to-GDP ratios that jeopardize prospects for medium-term debt sustainability and growth. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges of fiscal consolidation and debt reduction in the Caribbean. It examines the problem of high debt in the region and discusses policy options for improving debt sustainability, including fiscal consolidation, robust growth, and structural reforms. The book also examines empirically the factors underlying global large debt reduction episodes to draw important policy lessons for the Caribbean. It also reviews the literature on successful fiscal consolidation experiences and provides an overview of past and current consolidation efforts in the Caribbean. The book concludes that the region needs a broad and sustained package of reforms to reduce debt ratios to more manageable levels and strengthen economic resilience.

International Monetary Fund
his paper reviews the recent application of the Fund’s policies and practices on sovereign debt restructuring. Specifically, the paper: • recaps in a holistic manner the various policies and practices that underpin the Fund's legal and policy framework for sovereign debt restructuring, including on debt sustainability, market access, financing assurances, arrears, private sector involvement (PSI), official sector involvement (OSI), and the use of legal instruments; • reviews how this framework has been applied in the context of Fund-supported programs and highlights the issues that have emerged in light of recent experience with debt restructuring; and • describes recent initiatives in various fora aimed at promoting orderly sovereign debt restructuring, highlighting differences with the Fund’s existing framework. Based on this stocktaking, the paper identifies issues that could be considered in further depth in follow-up work by staff to assess whether the Fund’s framework for debt restructuring should be adapted: • first, debt restructurings have often been too little and too late, thus failing to re-establish debt sustainability and market access in a durable way. Overcoming these problems likely requires action on several fronts, including (i) increased rigor and transparency of debt sustainability and market access assessments, (ii) exploring ways to prevent the use of Fund resources to simply bail out private creditors, and (iii) measures to alleviate the costs associated with restructurings; • second, while creditor participation has been adequate in recent restructurings, the current contractual, market-based approach to debt restructuring is becoming less potent in overcoming collective action problems, especially in pre-default cases. In response, consideration could be given to making the contractual framework more effective, including through the introduction of more robust aggregation clauses into international sovereign bonds bearing in mind the inter-creditor equity issues that such an approach may raise. The Fund may also consider ways to condition use of its financing more tightly to the resolution of collective action problems; • third, the growing role and changing composition of official lending call for a clearer framework for official sector involvement, especially with regard to non-Paris Club creditors, for which the modality for securing program financing commitments could be tightened; and • fourth, although the collaborative, good-faith approach to resolving external private arrears embedded in the lending into arrears (LIA) policy remains the most promising way to regain market access post-default, a review of the effectiveness of the LIA policy is in order in light of recent experience and the increased complexity of the creditor base. Consideration could also be given to extending the LIA policy to official arrears.
International Monetary Fund
The 2011 Article IV Consultation report concludes that Belize has weathered the financial crisis relatively well when compared with Caribbean Community peers. Executive Directors have commended the authorities for their macroeconomic management, which enabled Belize to weather the financial crisis. Although the near-term outlook is positive, challenges arise from the uncertain global environment, rising gross financing needs of the public sector, and the weak investment climate. Directors have emphasized the need to tighten further the fiscal stance and rebuild macroeconomic buffers.
International Monetary Fund
The economy of Belize in recent years has been vulnerable to adverse shocks owing to its weak external position, policy rigidities, and reduced access to external financing. Executive Directors commended the authorities for their prudent macroeconomic management during the crisis. Directors emphasized the need for fiscal consolidation strategy, and stressed the need to strengthen the banking system. They supported plans to improve public financial management and tax administration. They welcomed monetary policy framework, liquidity management, and development plan policies, and offered expert assistance as well.