This thesis addresses issues of debt and the twin deficits - two serious ‘economic ills’. The central issue in this thesis (Part II) is on macromodelling of the twin deficits in an attempt to identify their determinants. This involves an investigation of the underlying theory and empirical evidence to show the workings of the links between debt and the twin deficits and between the twin deficits themselves. The usual practice in both theory and in empirical work, is to take the accounting identity and one or two other variables that are hypothesised to have effects on the twin deficits and posit causal linkages. We try to avoid this by building on the stylized facts on each of the macroeconomic aggregates and linking them to debt issues in building a full structural model of debt and the twin deficits. We arrive at a system of simultaneous equations, which none of the previous theory or empirical work has derived. We rename the deficit system of simultaneous equations which incorporates a debt identity and an output equation the `new twin deficits' model – signifying a departure from the conventional wisdom discussed in the literature survey.
With the macromodel, we address three issues simultaneously, which are:
(1) the linkages between twin deficits and increased indebtedness.
(2) the details of internal policies that have effects on the twin-deficits and increased indebtedness.
(3) the linkages between debt, twin-deficits and output.
The first issue involves the broader mechanism that explains the link between the government, the private and the external sector balances, and their links to changes in debt. Previous studies on the twin deficits covers the first part of this issue and gives evidence for the U. S. that the government sector caused the unprecedented level of external deficits in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. In our case, we argue that the change in debt equals the external deficits because according to our findings in Part I debt and deficits seem to co-move.
Our macromodel also focus on the second issue, that is, the details of the internal policies that affect each of the three sector deficits and eventually increased indebtedness. The variables involved are numerous such as tax policies (rates, revenue elasticities, etc. ), financial policies (interest rates, investment versus savings behaviour, etc. ), trade policies (import liberalisation/control, exports strategies, exchange rates, prices, etc. ), debt policies, etc. as shown in the system of simultaneous equations in Chapter 5. Although the variables are numerous, there are some common ones appearing together in either two or all three of the system of equations which are expected to cause co-movements in the system. Obviously, consideration has to be made on their significance, magnitude and signs.
The third issue involves recognising the supply side in response to debt and deficits which are demand-side management. The model thus ensures not only equilibrium in the internal and external sectors but also equilibrium in aggregate supply and the aggregate demand. The former equilibrium always holds because the identity serves as a constraint. For the latter equilibrium to hold, either one or a combination of the price variables found in the system adjust to maintain equilibrium in the short-run, while output adjusts to maintain equilibrium in the long-run.
Having outlined the core of the thesis, it is appropriate to comment on the other parts. Part I presents the roots of debt and deficits; how developing countries accumulated debt and how it became a crisis in the 1980s. The debt and deficits situation in ASEAN in the 1980s is a particular focus. The essence of debt problem seems to be the adverse economic situation of the 1980s, against the background of mounting accumulation of debt. Exogenous shocks such as the second oil shock, terms of trade shocks, interest rates hikes, dollar exchange rate appreciation, are among the factors that are associated with debt problems. Debt and deficits co-move in the representative Latin American and ASEAN countries. Differences among regional experiences are highlighted. For example the African countries went into debt problem not because of debt accumulation. The main crux of their problem is non-performance export sector. Excessive lending by creditors are associated with the Latin American countries, apart from loans contracted on floating rates which are associated with valuation changes and capital flight. The ASEAN region moved towards yen credit in the mid 1980s, presumably insulating their economy with further spill-overs from other NICs' recycling of surpluses. The differences in experiences necessitates different treatment, or case by case approach to debt problems.
In Part III, we present some empirical work on aspects of debt management. Debt servicing capacity or creditworthiness is examined using the logit approach. We builtin the marginal and elasticity analysis into the logit model so as to identify which variables are the most significant determinants. The exercise combines variables taken from the balance of payments and financial variables from the balance sheet to detect which variables cause debt servicing breakdown. The breakdown of debt servicing capacity is proxied by reschedulings, taken in terms of probabilities because it is not known a priori that a debtor will become illiquid and unable to repay interest payments falling due. We postulate that it is the foreign exchange scarcity, measured by their net borrowing requirements which comprise of the current account deficits including interest repayments and the principal due, that drive a country to demand for rescheduling.
We investigate the determinants of rescheduling for each region separately to capture the differences in their experiences with indebtedness. The most important determinants of rescheduling are; the ratio of the current account deficits to export, the reserves to import ratio and the total debt to exports. In the African sample, the current account deficits to exports, the total debt to exports and the use of IMF credits are the most important determinants for rescheduling. As in the case of the Latin American countries, The current account deficits to exports, the debt service ratio and the use of IMF credit are most important. In ASEAN, the debt service ratio appears to be the single most significant ratio. Thus, the differences in experiences among regions, a cross section for all developing countries will ignore the uniqueness of each region in running into debt servicing difficulties.
In the last part of the thesis, the exchange rate management is discussed in Chapter 7, relating exchange rate to import and export demand function to eventually determine the contribution of foreign exchange, through the elasticity approach, towards foreign exchange earnings and reducing debt service. Debt service seems to have links with exchange rates movements. We suggest that devaluation does have positive effects in the ASEAN countries to increase its foreign exchange earnings.
Finally, we conclude and suggest some policy implications, especially pertaining to our twin deficit model. It is hoped that ASEAN would turn the already huge debt accumulation to more profitable investments so that not only timely repayment of loans is possible, the growth of output is ensured and the sustained industrialisation is possible!
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