Wordt 2016 het jaar van de staatsschuldencrises?

MIAMI – Bij staatsschulden wordt de term ‘verzuim’ vaak verkeerd begrepen. Dit betekent bijna nooit de complete en permanente verwerping van de gehele voorraad aan schulden; zelfs sommige Russische obligaties uit de tsaristische tijd werden na de Russische revolutie in 1917 uiteindelijk (al slechts gedeeltelijk) afgelost. In plaats daarvan leidt het niet nakomen van betalingsverplichtingen – ‘verzuim’ volgens kredietratingbureaus wanneer het particuliere crediteuren betreft – gewoonlijk tot gesprekken over schuldherstructurering, die looptijdverlenging, het snijden in couponbetalingen, aflossingsvrije perioden, of nominale kortingen (zogeheten ‘hair cuts’) kunnen behelzen.

Als de geschiedenis ons tot voorbeeld dient zouden er in 2016 veel van dit soort gesprekken kunnen gaan plaatsvinden.

Net zoals zoveel andere kenmerken van de wereldeconomie neigen schuldenaccumulatie en verzuim in cycli op te treden. Sinds 1800 heeft de wereldeconomie verschillende van deze cycli meegemaakt, waarbij aandeel onafhankelijke landen dat gedurende deze jaren herstructurering onderging tussen 0 en 50% bewoog (zie afbeelding). Qua verzuim zijn windstiltes van tien tot twintig jaar niet ongewoon, maar op elke stille periode is zonder uitzondering een nieuwe verzuimgolf gevolgd.

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