Sovereign Debt Working Group



Covid-19 sparked a sharp increase in sovereign borrowing by developing nations, with total debt held by low-income countries skyrocketing to record-breaking levels. The resulting unsustainable debt burdens and impending wave of restructurings have exposed weaknesses within the current sovereign debt architecture and accelerated the need for reform. The Bretton Woods Committee recognizes the urgency with which this reform is needed and aims to help solve these issues.

Towards this end, the Bretton Woods Committee has created a working group dedicated to finding realistic, actionable methods to better facilitate the acquisition, management, and restructuring of sovereign debts. The Sovereign Debt Working Group, comprised of economic, financial, and legal experts with significant experience in the area of sovereign debt, will address debt transparency, equitable burden sharing, private sector participation, and state-contingent debt instruments as part of this five-part series.

The Working Group will share its analysis and recommendations in these areas through a series of short papers to be released in 2021-2022.


Debt Transparency: The Essential Starting Point for Successful Reform

This is the second installment in the Sovereign Debt Working Group’s series on examining and improving the current issues within the sovereign debt architecture. This paper addresses the lack of transparency within the current system, how the current system disincentives transparency for both borrowers and lenders, and presents a menu of actionable solutions with which stakeholders can begin pursuing a transparency agenda.

Media Coverage:

Financial Times:

Act now to prevent a new sovereign debt crisis in the developing world

By: William R. Rhodes & John Lipsky

Wall Street Journal:

Stemming a Sovereign-Debt Crisis

By: William R. Rhodes & John Lipsky


How to Prevent the Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis
By: William C. Dudley

Financial Times:

Argentina’s IMF deal offers a warning on emerging market debt

By: Gillian Tett

South China Morning Post:
China’s backing for global debt transparency crucial to contain Covid-induced stress in emerging markets


As defaults loom, calls mount for G-20 to tackle debt transparency



Oxford University Press: Capital Markets Law Journal
Debt transparency: the essential starting point for successful reform

The BWC report on Debt Transparency was published in the June 2022 edition of the Oxford University Press Capital Markets Law Journal. Oxford University Press (OUP) publishes the highest quality journals and delivers this research to the widest possible audience.



Sovereign Debt: A Critical Challenge

This is the first paper published by BWC’s Sovereign Debt Working Group and is the introductory piece in a series of publications that will explore the current issues and challenges within the sovereign debt architecture and offer researched, actionable solutions. This paper presents and provides context on the Working Group’s priority issues, setting the stage for further in-depth analysis in future pieces.

Media Coverage:


Sovereign debt distress rise prompts Bretton Woods group action plan