Structuring and restructuring sovereign debt : the role of seniority

Bolton, Patrick; Jeanne, Olivier

We show how the willingness-to-pay problem and lack of exclusivity in sovereign lending may result in an equilibrium sovereign debt structure that is excessively difficult to restructure. A bankruptcy regime for sovereigns can alleviate this inefficiency but only if it is endowed with far-reaching powers to enforce seniority and subordination clauses in debt contracts. A bankruptcy regime that makes sovereign debt easier to restructure without enforcing seniority may decrease welfare.



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December 23, 2010