- In this paper we will consider a simple small open economy with three assets - domestic capital, foreign securities and public debt - to study the government's incentives to devalue and to repay or default the debt. We show that the announcement of a devaluation is anticipated by domestic agents who reduce domestic investments and increase foreign holdings. Once a government devalues, the expectations vanish and the economy recovers its past levels of investment and GDP. However, in a country with international debt denominated in US dollars if a government devalues it requires a higher fraction of GDP to repay its external debt. In consequence, there exists a trade-off between recovering the economy and increasing the future cost of repaying the debt. Our main result is to show that, as devaluation beliefs exists, a devaluation increase government incentives to default and devalue. We calibrate our model to match the decrease in investment of domestic capital, the reduction in production, the increase in trade balance surplus, and the increase in debt levels observed throughout 2001 in Argentina. We show that for a probability of devaluation consistent with the risk premium of the Argentinian Government bonds nominated in dollars issued on April 2001 the external debt of Argentina was in a crisis zone were the government find optimal to default and to devalue.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department.
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