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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics: Vol. 6 No. 2 (April 2014)

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Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises

Article Citation

Mian, Atif, Amir Sufi, and Francesco Trebbi. 2014. "Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises." American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 6(2): 1-28.

DOI: 10.1257/mac.6.2.1

Abstract

Countries become more politically polarized and fractionalized following financial crises, reducing the likelihood of major financial reforms precisely when they might have especially large benefits. The evidence from a large sample of countries provides strong support for the hypotheses that following a financial crisis, voters become more ideologically extreme and ruling coalitions become weaker, independently of whether they were initially in power. The evidence that increased polarization and weaker governments reduce the chances of financial reform and that financial crises lead to legislative gridlock and anemic reform is less clear-cut. The US debt overhang resolution is discussed as an illustration.

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Authors

Mian, Atif (Princeton U)
Sufi, Amir (U Chicago)
Trebbi, Francesco (U British Columbia)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
E32: Business Fluctuations; Cycles
E44: Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
G01: Financial Crises
H63: National Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics


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