Working paper

Sovereign debt and its restructuring framework in the euro area

To compensate for the inflexibility of fixed exchange rates, the euro area needs flexibility through a system of orderly debt restructuring.&nbsp

Publishing date
11 August 2013
Authors
Ashoka Mody

To compensate for the inflexibility of fixed exchange rates, the euro area needs flexibility through a system of orderly debt restructuring. With virtually no room for macroeconomic manoeuvring since the crisis onset, fiscal austerity has been the main instrument for achieving reductions in public debt levels; but because austerity also weakens growth, public debt ratios have barely budged. Austerity has also implied continued high private debt ratios. And these debt burdens have perpetuated economic stasis. Economic theory,history, and the recent experience all call for a principled debt restructuring mechanism as an integral element of the euro area’s design. Sovereign debt should be recognised as equity (a residual claim on the sovereign), operationalised by the automatic lowering of the debt burden upon the breach of contractually-specified thresholds. Making debt more equity-like is also the way forward for speedy private deleveraging. This debt-equity swap principle is a needed shock absorber for the future but will also serve as the principle to deal with the overhang of ‘legacy’ debt.

About the authors

  • Ashoka Mody

    Ashoka Mody is the Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor in International Economic Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. Previously, he was Deputy Director in the International Monetary Fund’s Research and European Departments. He was responsible for the IMF’s Article IV consultations with Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and Hungary, and also for the design of Ireland's financial rescue program. Earlier, at the World Bank, his management positions included those in Project Finance and Guarantees and in the Prospects Group, where he coordinated and was principal author of the Global Development Finance Report of 2001. He has advised governments worldwide on developmental and financial projects and policies, while writing extensively for policy and scholarly audiences.

    Mody has been a Member of Staff at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, a Research Associate at the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Financial Studies, Frankfurt and the Center for Global Government, Washington D.C. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University.

    Declaration of outside interests 2014

    Declaration of outside interests 2015

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