Risk Management of Public Debt in Emerging Countries Finance Essay

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Overall objective of public debt management is to reduce the country’s fiscal vulnerability by stabilizing the debt ratio dynamics at some desirable level (Melecky 2007). The traditional approach to public debt management analyzes debt sustainability in the absence of risk. The risk management approach, in contrast, shows that risk is minimized if a debt instrument provides insurance against variations in the primary budget and the debt ratio due to uncertainty about output and inflation (Bloomenstien 2005). Risk management, which lies at the heart of government debt management, makes crucial link between the formulation and implementation of debt management strategies (Wheeler 2004). Importance of public debt risk management as appropriate tool of debt control was confirmed by financial crises from the nineties and especially the late 2000s recession, which leave many economies worldwide, both developed and emerging, with high budget deficits and public and external debts. Managing risks associated with sovereign debt is particularly challenging in emerging market economies compared to more advanced economies due to the volatility in the macro environment, as well as the complexity of the debt structure and the underdevelopment of financial markets, which make it harder to use more advanced risk management tools (Bloomenstein 2004). More specifically, particular issues of sovereign debt risk management in EMCs include: Lack of natural stabilizers. EMCs lack the natural stabilizing structural characteristics that allow the use of effective counter-cyclical policies (Garcia and Rigobon 2004). Inefficient government bond market. Emerging debt managers often face difficulties or impossibilities to borrow in nominal terms in the domestic currency in the long-run, which results in less options for fiscal adjustments and more dependency from captive lending agreements. This phenomenon is well-known as original sin (Eichengreen, Hausmann and Panizza 2002). Limitations to benefit from risk-sharing. Many emerging markets are not in the position to benefit from efficient international or domestic risk-sharing, neither to share a significant degree their risks with their creditors (Bloomenstein 2005). High risk of contingent liabilities. Emerging market economies faces high risk of contingent liabilities – World Bank Study of public debt dynamics shows that the realization of (implicit and explicit) contingent liabilities contributes nearly 50% to the increase in public debt in a sample of 21 emerging markets (Anderson 2004).

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Public debt management as the general framework of the public debt risk management has been rarely issue of academic analysis until last two decades, although it has been practiced as a part of economic policy for centuries. Early academic papers in this field were primarily dealing with debt management objectives. Tobin (1963) regard government debt management primarily as a tool for macroeconomic stabilisation, with minimisation of interest costs coming secondary. Baro (1979) recommended tax smoothing as government debt objective, claiming that, if there is a sharp rise in government expenditure during a recession, this should not be compensated with tax increases, but rather be absorbed by a temporary deterioration of the budget balance. Consideration of tax smoothing as debt management objective became first mainstream line of academic reasoning about public debt governance and open the discussion on the issue of optimal debt structure that should provide a hedge against macroeconomic shocks to the government budget, that is, by choosing a portfolio of securities with returns that co-vary negatively with government consumption and positively with the tax base and, thus, output (Lucas and Stokey, 1983; Barro, 1995; Bohn, 1990; Missale, 1997). Licandro and Masoller (2000) provide analytical solution for the optimal debt structure. Due to the “Stabilization and Growth Pact” that was introduced to European Monetary Union, budget deficit of member countries has been limited to 3%, thus Missale (2000) set the analytical solution for the optimal debt structure stating budget deficit to GDP as objective function. In general, budget stabilization or tax smoothing approach provides important insights in decision making process in public debt management and emphasized importance of the correlation matrix between key macroeconomic variables like inflation, GDP growth and interest and exchange rates for the optimization of debt structure. However, tax smoothing approach as public debt management objective was criticized in terms of their practical accuracy. Alesina, Roubini and Cohen (1997) argue that debt managers ignore the budget stabilisation approach because budgetary policy is not driven by tax smoothing motives. They claim that governments put up with the welfare losses caused by tax rate fluctuations. De Haan and Wolswijk (2005) attribute the lack of practical application of the budget stabilisation approach to the fact that countries find it difficult to investigate how the various macroeconomic variables affect the debt costs and the balance. Furthermore, it is not known what shocks (demand or supply shocks) a country may expect. As a result, it is practically impossible to determine the right hedge for the budget balance in advance. Additional critics that could be addressed to this approach is that it says little about exposure of debt portfolio to risk and costs of debt. New mainstream line of academic reasoning has started at the beginning of the century, when Sweden Debt Management Office (Bergstrom and Holmlund, 2000) introduced new approach to debt management that set minimization of debt costs an objective of public debt management and employs stochastic process modeling in order to capture stochastic nature of risk factors. Power to the rise of new approach was given by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which “Guidelines for the Public Debt Management”, issued in 2001, states that the main objective of public debt management is “to ensure that the government’s financing needs and its payment obligations are met at the lowest possible cost over the medium to long run, consistent with a prudent degree of risk”. In practical sense, it means that governments should look for such debt structure that minimize potential loss of adverse shocks and market movements by efficient management of the risks. Additionally, Guidelines clearly stated six types of the risk that governments should manage. Cost minimization approach was widely accepted by debt management authorities worldwide and included as public debt management objective in associated strategies (Wheeler, 2004, pp. 14-15). Correspondingly, large number of academic papers dealing with minimization of a government loss function based on numerical approach has emerged. According to Melecky (2007), recent numerical approaches can be broadly grouped regarding the indicators they produce: Cost at risk (CaR) approach. The main indicator of interest that concerns this group is the CaR measure, whereby cost is typically measured as a ratio to GDP. The standard parts of the simulation the CaR computation is a framework simulating the paths of the underlying economic financial variables which are modeled using usual approaches like term structure modeling of interest rates (Bodler 2002, 2003) or autoregressive modeling of stochastic variables (Bergstrom and Holmlund, 2000). Default probability based on specified government’s debt-to-GDP default ratio. This approach again uses simulated paths of economic variables and the debt structure to compute the corresponding government debt-to-GDP ratios, but switch the focus from CaR computation to sustainability of debt, using different stochastic modeling approach like Vector Autoregression models (Garcia and Rigobon, 2004) or system of Brownian motion (Xu and Ghezzi, 2004). Default probability based on a distress barrier. This approach work with an explicit measure of sovereign credit risk derived from a contingent claim analysis (Gapen, Gray, Limand Xiao (2005), Gray, Merton and Bodie (2005)) The first comprehensive research that discusses issues of risk management of public debt was conducted by the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (2005), comprising both theoretical advances in the area and debt management authorities’ practices. However, this research encompasses mostly industrialized countries, paying a little attention to the developing and EMCs. Issues of risk management of public debt in emerging market countries still remain insufficiently covered field, although it has been argued that there is significant difference between volatility of macro variables between developed and emerging economies (Bloomenstein and Santiso, 2007).


Structure and level of government portfolio is driven by the government borrowing requirements, which are results of the broader fiscal and monetary policy of the country. Once the borrowing requirements are determined, the question that arises is whether risk management tools, which have been broadly used by business financial institutions like commercial banks or investments fund, could be efficiently applied to the public debt portfolio in order to minimize its costs. The main issue of the thesis is to assess the efficiency of the risk management approach to the mitigation of risk of public debt and the predictability of public debt costs and government loss. Tools for measurement of risk exposure of the public debt are considered and compared in order to investigate whether they could capture complexity of macro environment in EMCs. Then, dynamic modeling of the government loss function is analyzed trough the simulation models to assess robustness of the loss paths to the adverse market movements. Further, contribution of the risk management approach to the optimization of the debt structure toward insurance of long-term sustainability and identification of appropriate instruments that should be used to hedge risk exposures is investigated. The major research questions based on general research framework are: Which measurement of the risk exposure is more appropriate to use for the assessment of the public debt riskiness? Does risk management approach to public debt management lead to the efficient cost-risk optimization of public debt portfolio? Which types of risks are mostly mitigated by application of risk management approach? Is it possible to structure public debt portfolio to be robust against shocks of supply or demand or sharp changes in interest and exchange rates? Do financial derivatives contribute to the mitigation of public debt risks? The following working hypotheses, which could be amended or refuted in the research process, are derived from the research questions: Risk measure based on VaR approach efficiently capture market risk of government portfolio loss. Application of VaR approach to the dynamic modeling of government loss is more efficient than Vector Autoregression Model (VAR) approach in terms of explanatory power. Optimal structure of the public debt lies at the efficient frontier reflecting risk-cost trade-off. Interest rate, exchange rate and rollover risks are successfully mitigated by risk management tools. Mitigation of operational risks and contingent liability’ risks are not affected by risk management tools. Maturity of the debt is affected by use of the interest or currency swaps as hedge instruments. The analysis will contribute both to the academic and economic policy fields. Within the academic field, it will give deeper insight how correlations between key macroeconomic variables, original sin and limited choice of market instruments and limited use of the financial instruments affect the efficient applicability of risk management tools to public debt management. Further, it contributes to the public debt offices of the EMCs, which have recognized the importance of the introduction of more sophisticated tools for quantification of the public debt risk.


The research design follows the deductive approach, starting with the review of the existing theoretical and empirical work as a basis for the operationalization of the hypotheses. In the second stage of the research, hypotheses are empirically tested; nature of the research hypotheses does not require collecting of primary data, thus for the empirical testing only secondary data provided by the relevant financial institutions and statistical offices are considered. In the theoretical part of the research, two sources of literature will be primary used. First, key academic papers published in renowned journals such as Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review or Journal of Monetary Economics, on the subject of public debt management are reviewed. However, due to the relatively recent origins of the academic, review of already published academic papers is accompanied with numerous working papers which are still under the consideration of the expert public. Second, as the field of public debt is inevitably connected with economic policy practice, large number of public debt strategies, reports and policy papers issued by country’s debt offices and international organizations like World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Bank for International Settlements is reviewed to complete theoretical and practical advances in the research field. The empirical part of the project starts with the descriptive analysis of secondary data on public debt and other macroeconomic parameters of EMCs. Relevant database will consists of monthly time series of necessary variables. Primarily source of the data will be International Monetary Fund and World Bank statistical data, accomplished with data of national banks and country statistical offices. The central part of the empirical research will be based on the regression analysis and Value-at-Risk analysis. Regarding the time horizons, analysis is longitudinal, as it is imposed by the nature of the proposed analytical tools. The dependent variable which is modeled is cost of public debt as a measurement of government risk of loss. Independent variables include all macroeconomic variables grounded as relevant by the existing theory subjected to public debt management, as real GDP, public sector borrowing requirements, inflation, interest rates, country risk and exchange rates. In addition, Monte Carlo models are employed to simulate the dynamic of the debt costs, and back testing analysis is used to assess efficiency of the proposed model. Selected countries for the empirical analysis are Hungary, Poland and Czech which are widely recognized as the European EMCs by the world most prominent financial analytic entities. Focus of the empirical research on the only European countries, although practical in the term of data availability, diminish the power of generalization that is implied by deductive approach. However, the conclusions of the research will be representative for the other emerging economies from the Central and Eastern Europe, regarding the similarity of transition character of their economies.


Beside the introduction and conclusion chapters, Thesis consists of two parts, theoretical and empirical. Problem background, research framework and structure of the thesis are presented in the introduction. Theoretical part is divided in three chapters, each dealing with the critical review of the important findings of the existing literature. First chapter deals with the foundations of public debt management as general framework for the managing of the costs and risks of government finance. Second chapter defines risk management tools and discuss the role and various application of them within the public debt management framework. Third chapter analysis previously mentioned specific issues of public debt related to the EMCs. Empirical part consists of four chapters. First chapter gives cross-country analysis of the EMCs public debt risk management policy practices. Second chapter deals with the development of the hypothesis based on the overall literature review from the first part, supported with the findings for the investigated EMCs countries. Third chapter presents methodology, data and limitations of the research. Fourth chapter presents findings of the analysis in line with their critical discussion and implications. Conclusion part gives the comprehensive summary of the most important findings of the thesis and recommendations for the further research issues.

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Risk Management Of Public Debt In Emerging Countries Finance Essay. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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