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International Monetary Fund
There have been significant developments in sovereign debt restructuring involving private-sector creditors since the IMF’s last stocktaking in 2014. While the current contractual approach has been largely effective in resolving sovereign debt cases since 2014, it has gaps that could pose challenges in future restructurings.
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
Nicola Gennaioli, Alberto Martin, and Stefano Rossi
We analyze holdings of public bonds by over 20,000 banks in 191 countries, and the role of these bonds in 20 sovereign defaults over 1998-2012. Banks hold many public bonds (on average 9% of their assets), particularly in less financially-developed countries. During sovereign defaults, banks increase their exposure to public bonds, especially large banks and when expected bond returns are high. At the bank level, bondholdings correlate negatively with subsequent lending during sovereign defaults. This correlation is mostly due to bonds acquired in pre-default years. These findings shed light on alternative theories of the sovereign default-banking crisis nexus.
Mr. Fabio Comelli
We estimate sovereign bond spreads of 28 emerging economies over the period January 1998-December 2011 and test the ability of the model in generating accurate in-sample predictions for emerging economies bond spreads. The impact and significance of country-specific and global explanatory variables on bond spreads varies across regions, as well as economic periods. During crisis times, good macroeconomic fundamentals are helpful in containing bond spreads, but less than in non-crisis times, possibly reflecting the impact of extra-economic forces on bond spreads when a financial crisis occurs. For some emerging economies, in-sample predictions of the monthly changes in bond spreads obtained with rolling regression routines are significantly more accurate than forecasts obtained with a random walk. Rolling regression-based bond spread predictions appear to convey more information than those obtained with a linear prediction method. By contrast, bond spreads forecasts obtained with a linear prediction method are less accurate than those obtained with random guessing.
Christoph Trebesch, Mr. Michael G. Papaioannou, and Mr. Udaibir S Das
This paper provides a comprehensive survey of pertinent issues on sovereign debt restructurings, based on a newly constructed database. This is the first complete dataset of sovereign restructuring cases, covering the six decades from 1950–2010; it includes 186 debt exchanges with foreign banks and bondholders, and 447 bilateral debt agreements with the Paris Club. We present new stylized facts on the outcome and process of debt restructurings, including on the size of haircuts, creditor participation, and legal aspects. In addition, the paper summarizes the relevant empirical literature, analyzes recent restructuring episodes, and discusses ongoing debates on crisis resolution mechanisms, credit default swaps, and the role of collective action clauses.
International Monetary Fund
This paper takes stock of past episodes of debt restructuring and reviews the relevant literature. Based on cross-country experience from the late 1990s through 2010 of emerging markets it offers some stylized facts.
Carolyne Spackman and Mr. Manmohan Singh
Credit Default Swap spreads have been used as a leading indicator of distress. Default probabilities can be extracted from CDS spreads, but during distress it is important to take account of the stochastic nature of recovery value. The recent episodes of Landbanski, WAMU and Lehman illustrate that using the industry-standard fixed recovery rate assumption gives default probabilities that are low relative to those extracted from stochastic recovery value as proxied by the cheapest-to-deliver bonds. Financial institutions using fixed rate recovery assumptions could have a false sense of security, and could be faced with outsized losses with potential knock-on effects for other institutions. To ensure effective oversight of financial institutions, and to monitor the stability of the global financial system especially during distress, the stochastic nature of recovery rates needs to be incorporated.
Mr. Harald Finger and Mr. Mauro Mecagni


Restoring a country's debt to a sustainable path after a sovereign debt restructuring is key to ensuring a credible and durable exit from the crisis. In recent years, a number of countries have restructured their sovereign liabilities, either following a default, or preemptively, to avoid a default. This Occasional Paper takes stock of the experiences of some of these countries--Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Moldova, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uruguay--with debt-restructuring operations, with a view to assessing the outcomes and whether debt sustainability has been restored. The emphasis of the study is on sovereign debt owed to private creditors.

Mr. Jeromin Zettelmeyer and Mr. Federico Sturzenegger
This paper estimates bond-by-bond "haircuts"-realized investor losses-in recent debt restructurings in Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Ecuador, Argentina, and Uruguay. We consider both external and domestic retructurings. Haircuts are computed as the percentage difference between the present values of old and new instruments, discounted at the yield prevailing immediately after the exchange. We find average haircuts ranging from 13 percent (Uruguay external exchange) to 73 percent (2005 Argentina exchange). We also find within-exchange variations in haircuts, depending on the instrument tendered. With exceptions, domestic residents do not appear to have been treated systematically better (or worse) than foreign residents.
Mr. Manmohan Singh
On a credit rating-adjusted basis, spreads on U.S. high-yield debt have typically been regarded as a lower bound for emerging market debt. However in the C-rated and defaulted segment, emerging market debt has traded at lower spreads than similarly rated U.S. high yield debt. We show that the lower spreads reflect the fact that the total returns from defaulted debt in the emerging markets have been significantly higher than returns from similarly rated high yield defaulted debt under Chapter 11.