Document Type

Chapter of Book

Publication Date



sovereign debt, contracts


The academic literature on sovereign debt largely assumes that law has little role to play. Indeed, the primary question addressed by the literature is why sovereigns repay at all given the irrelevance of legal enforcement. But if law, and specifically contract law, does not matter, how to explain the fact that sovereign loans involve detailed contracts, expensive lawyers, and frequent litigation? This Essay makes the case that contract design matters even in a world where sovereign borrowers are hard (but not impossible) to sue. We identify a number of gaps in the research that warrant further investigation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Public debts, Contracts, External debts—Law and legislation