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A Guide to Sovereign Debt Data

Author/Editor:

S. M. Ali Abbas ; Kenneth Rogoff

Publication Date:

September 13, 2019

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Summary:

The last decade or so has seen a mushrooming of new sovereign debt databases covering long time spans for several countries. This represents an important breakthrough for economists who have long sought to, but been unable to tackle, first-order questions such as why countries have differential debt tolerance, and how debt levels affect the scope for countercyclical policy in recessions and financial crises. This paper backdrops these recent data efforts, identifying both the key innovations, as well as caveats that users should be aware of. A Directory of existing publicly-available sovereign debt databases, featuring compilations by institutions and individual researchers, is also included.


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