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International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
The Debt Limits Policy (DLP) establishes the framework for using quantitative conditionality to address debt vulnerabilities in IMF-supported programs. In October 2020, the Executive Board approved reforms to the DLP which will enter into effect on June 30, 2021. The risk-based approach to setting debt conditionality informed by Debt Sustainability Analyses under the previous DLP approved in 2014 is maintained. The reforms aim to provide countries with more financing flexibility in practice while still adequately containing debt vulnerabilities through appropriate safeguards. This note provides operational and technical guidance related to the implementation of the DLP, including the operationalization of the approved reforms. In particular, it outlines the core principles underpinning the DLP, including when debt conditionality in IMF-supported programs is warranted and how to account for country-specific circumstances in the design of debt limits. The note also describes the process of setting and implementing debt conditionality, including: (i) identifying debt vulnerabilities to inform the focus of debt conditionality; (ii) designing debt conditionality; and (iii) implementing debt conditionality through the review cycle. The Guidance Note is intended for use by both IMF staff and country officials. In this regard, in addition to the guidance presented in the main body, the note also contains several annexes that cover definitional, technical, and operational issues arising in the determination and implementation of public debt limits.
International Monetary Fund
The global economy is embarking on a lengthy path to recovery with modest growth expected for 2021, after a severe contraction this year. The global forecast is subject to unusually large risks. Emerging markets and developing economies face an uphill battle. Low-income developing countries are in an especially vulnerable position and risk a persistent and significant deterioration in development prospects. Controlling the pandemic and cushioning the impact on the economy are key. LIDCs should adopt targeted containment measures and strictly prioritize spending and refrain from policies that could create long term damage. Multilateral cooperation and extensive support from the international community are indispensable. The IMF has helped EMDEs through emergency lending and debt service relief. Targeted surveillance and capacity development will tackle new policy challenges and react nimbly to the needs of the membership including fragile and small states.
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
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper estimates Ecuador’s potential growth in the range of 1 3/4 to 3 percent. The lower estimate corresponds to an extrapolation of recent trends while the higher estimate could be achievable through the implementation of a reform agenda that addresses fiscal and competitiveness challenges of Ecuador. The paper also develops models to nowcast and forecast GDP to improve the accuracy of growth projections. The oil sector remains an important driver of economic activity; however, it is not as important as it once was. A simple growth accounting exercise is used to decompose Ecuador’s growth between production factors accumulation; capital and labor, and total factor productivity. The study shows that low total factor productivity is the reason behind Ecuador’s recent economic decline and has been a negative contributor to long-term growth. The paper also explores different vector autoregression models to identify the best one to forecast real GDP in Ecuador.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Mr. Marcos d Chamon, and Akira Sasahara
Sovereign debt restructurings have been shown to influence the dynamics of imports and exports. This paper shows that the impact can vary substantially depending on whether the restructuring takes place preemptively without missing payments to creditors, or whether it takes place after a default has occurred. We document that countries with post-default restructurings experience on average: (i) a more severe and protracted decline in imports, (ii) a larger fall in exports, and (iii) a sharper and more prolonged decline in both GDP, investment and real exchange rate than preemptive cases. These stylized facts are confirmed by panel regressions and local projection estimates, and a range of robustness checks including for the endogeneity of the restructuring strategy. Our findings suggest that a country’s choice of how to go about restructuring its debt can have major implications for the costs it incurs from restructuring.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper presents an assessment of macro-financial stability in Ecuador. Ecuador is being hit by external shocks that imply a downward adjustment in growth and financial intermediation. The financial system has been liquid and well-capitalized through 2014, but recently pressures on liquidity positions as well as credit and interest risks have been on the rise. Although main financial stability indicators do not show signs of stress in the first half of 2015, the developments warrant close monitoring and rapid reactions if pressures continue.
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.
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.