Borradores de Economía - Debt Moratorium: Theory and Evidence

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La serie Borradores de Economía es una publicación de la Subgerencia de Estudios Económicos del Banco de la República. Los trabajos son de carácter provisional, las opiniones y posibles errores son responsabilidad exclusiva del autor y sus contenidos no comprometen al Banco de la República ni a su Junta Directiva.

Autor o Editor
Kürsat Önder, Yasin
Villamizar-Villegas, Mauricio
Villegas, Jose

The series Borradores de Economía (Working Papers on Economics) contributes to the dissemination and promotion of the work by researchers from the institution. On multiple occasions, these works have been the result of collaborative work with individuals from other national or international institutions. This series is indexed at Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). The opinions contained in this document are the sole responsibility of the author and do not commit Banco de la República or its Board of Directors.

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Our study analyzes the impact of debt moratorium policies, possibly the oldest approach to addressing repayment problems. Using Colombian administrative data, we compare firms that narrowly met the criteria for moratoria (eligible firms could not exceed 60 days overdue on their loans) with those that just missed it. Our findings reveal that stressed firms accessing moratoria experience more favorable loan conditions on subsequent borrowing, characterized by higher loan amounts and lower interest rates. This credit relief, in turn, contribute to substantial increases in firm investment and employment. To delve deeper into the implications, we employ a quantitative general equilibrium model of default to assess both short- and long-term effects. While these policies effectively mitigate liquidity concerns, they concurrently elevate default risks. Notably, our research underscores larger welfare gains when debt moratorium policies incorporate interest forgiveness during periods of debt standstill by reducing default risk.