2021 (18) , №1

Sovereign Defaults and Banking Crises

For citation: 

Isakov, K. S. (2021). Sovereign Defaults and Banking Crises. Zhurnal Economicheskoj Teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 18(1), 29-47, https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2021.18-1.2


This research is aimed at contributing to the endogenization of default costs. Higher exposure of a banking system to sovereign bonds increases the likelihood of banking panics due to sovereign defaults. Following (Gertler, Kiyotaki, 2015), the research models the possibility of a banking crisis occurring after a sovereign default. While a higher exposure of a banking system is associated with potential losses, this mechanism creates a stronger commitment to honor the sovereign debt. A marginal increase in the sovereign debt raises the ex-post costs of default through a higher likelihood of a banking crisis, thus making a default option less desirable. This mechanism might increase investors’ confidence and resolve the coordination problem of self-fulfilling crises. In part, this may explain the findings of Bocola and Dovis (2019), who claim that non-fundamental risk played only a limited role during the European sovereign debt crisis. Furthermore, as opposed to the standard solution of the coordination problem — to issue debt of longer maturity — a government can resolve this problem by forcing its banking system to hold more sovereign bonds.

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Kanat S. Isakov — Intern Researcher, International Laboratory for Macroeconomic Analysis, HSE University (Moscow, Russian Federation; e-mail: kisakov@hse.ru).

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