NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Christoph Trebesch

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Working Papers

December 2015The International Monetary Fund: 70 Years of Reinvention
with Carmen M. Reinhart: w21805
A sketch of the International Monetary Fund’s 70-year history reveals an institution that has reinvented itself over time along multiple dimensions. This history is primarily consistent with a “demand driven” theory of institutional change, as the needs of its clients and the type of crisis changed substantially over time. Some deceptively “new” IMF activities are not entirely new. Before emerging market economies dominated IMF programs, advanced economies were its earliest (and largest) clients through the 1970s. While currency problems were the dominant trigger of IMF involvement in the earlier decades, banking crises and sovereign defaults became they key focus since the 1980s. Around this time, the IMF shifted from providing relatively brief (and comparatively modest) balance-of-paymen...
October 2015The Pitfalls of External Dependence: Greece, 1829-2015
with Carmen M. Reinhart: w21664
Two centuries of Greek debt crises highlight the pitfalls of relying on external financing. Since its independence in 1829, the Greek government has defaulted four times on its external creditors – with striking historical parallels. Each crisis is preceded by a period of heavy borrowing from foreign private creditors. As repayment difficulties arise, foreign governments step in, help to repay the private creditors, and demand budget cuts and adjustment programs as a condition for the official bailout loans. Political interference from abroad mounts and a prolonged episode of debt overhang and financial autarky follows. We conclude that these cycles of external debt and dependence are a perennial theme of Greek history, as well as in other countries that have been “addicted” to foreign sav...
October 2014A Distant Mirror of Debt, Default, and Relief
with Carmen M. Reinhart: w20577
We take a first pass at quantifying the magnitudes of debt relief achieved through default and restructuring in two distinct samples: 1979-2010, focusing on credit events in emerging markets, and 1920-1939, documenting the official debt hangover in advanced economies that was created by World War I and its aftermath. We examine the economic performance of debtor countries during and after these overhang episodes, by tracing the evolution of real per capita GDP (levels and growth rates); sovereign credit ratings; debt servicing burdens relative to GDP, fiscal revenues, and exports; as well as the level of government debt (external and total). Across 45 crisis episodes for which data is available we find that debt relief averaged 21 percent of GDP for advanced economies (1932-1939) and 16 pe...

Forthcoming in Journal of the European Economic Association, 14:1, February 2016

July 2014Political Booms, Financial Crises
with Helios Herrera, Guillermo Ordoñez: w20346
We show that political booms, measured by the rise in governments' popularity, predict financial crises above and beyond other better-known early warning indicators, such as credit booms. This predictive power, however, only holds in emerging economies. We show that governments in emerging economies are more concerned about their reputation and tend to ride the short-term popularity benefits of weak credit booms rather than implementing politically costly corrective policies that would help prevent potential crises. We provide evidence of the relevance of this reputation mechanism.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

 
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