Skip to Main Navigation

Debt and COVID-19

June 1, 2020

YouTube Live Streaming



  • Vulnerability to debt problems had been building in many emerging and developing countries prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The issues with debt varied significantly across countries but spanned the “classic” cases of deteriorating fiscal finances (especially pronounced as international commodity prices declined and growth slowed since 2013), growth in private debt (potentially contingent liabilities for the government), and “hidden debts” to China (most prevalent among the lower income countries).

    The emergence of COVID-19 and the near-global lockdowns that came with it has created the most precarious environment for emerging economies since the 1980s and, more likely, the depression of the 1930s—notwithstanding the unprecedented (in peacetime) fiscal and monetary stimulus put in place in the advanced economies. Since the beginning of a comprehensive monthly time series in 1980, sovereign downgrades by the major rating agencies peaked in April 2020. In this setting, general debt management, sovereign defaults, debt restructuring, and debt relief have, once again, resurfaced as a major policy focus. This seminar will offer an assessment of some of the current and future risks, and discuss some policies that could tackle pre-existing or new debt problems.

  • Image

    Carmen M. Reinhart

    Carmen M. Reinhart is appointed as the new Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group starting from June 15, 2020. She is currently the Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School. She was Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Director at the International Monetary Fund and Chief Economist the investment bank Bear Stearns in the 1980s. She serves in the Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and was a member of the Congressional Budget Office Panel of Economic Advisors. Her work has helped to inform the understanding of financial crises in both advanced economies and emerging markets.


    Charles W. Calomiris

    Charles W. Calomiris is the Henry Kaufman Professor of Financial Institutions at Columbia Business School and a Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is a member of the Financial Economists Roundtable, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he co-directs the Initiative on Regulation and the Rule of Law. Professor Calomiris received a BA in economics from Yale and a PhD in economics from Stanford University. His research spans banking, monetary economics, corporate finance and financial history.


    Doerte Doemeland

    Doerte Doemeland is the Practice Manager for Global Macro and Debt Analytics in the Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment (MTI) Global Practice. Since joining the World Bank as a Junior Professional Officer, she has worked on technical, analytical and operational tasks in low and middle-income countries in ECA, LAC and Sub-Saharan Africa. She also spent two years in the World Bank’s Research Department to work with the Sr. Vice President and Chief Economist.


  • Date: June 1, 2020, 10:00AM – 11:30AM EST
  • Chair: Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank