What We Learn from a Sovereign Debt Restructuring in France in 1721
Abstract: A debt is a promise to perform a certain action (make a payment) in the future. A default is a failure to perform the action when the time comes to do so. If performance of the action were always in my interest, the promise to perform it would be superfluous. When we promise to do something, it is precisely because we may well not want to do it. Debt usually takes the form of a contract, which courts can enforce. But sovereign debt (debt issued by governments) is harder to enforce, because governments aren?t easily constrained by courts. How can sovereign governments make promises and be believed?
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Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Part of Series: Economic Perspectives
Publication Date: 2016