Sovereign Debt and Structural Reforms
Kjetil Storesletten, Fabrizio Zilibotti and Andreas Müller
American Economic Review
American Economic Review, December 2019, Volume 109
We construct a dynamic theory of sovereign debt and structural reforms with limited enforcement and moral hazard. A sovereign country in recession wishes to smooth consumption. It can also undertake costly reforms to speed up recovery. The sovereign can renege on contracts by suffering a stochastic cost. The constrained optimal allocation (COA) prescribes imperfect insurance with nonmonotonic dynamics for consumption and effort. The COA is decentralized by a competitive equilibrium with markets for renegotiable GDP-linked one-period debt. The equilibrium features debt overhang: reform effort decreases in a high debt range. We also consider environments with less complete markets.