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The Current Landscape

Comparisons of public debt across countries and across time are hindered by the significant heterogeneity in definition and coverage. Public debt in France in 1830 bears very little resemblance to that of Brazil in 2016. This chapter will consider what constitutes a debt contract and onion-like layers of the sovereign entity. The chapter will use this taxonomy to show the varied landscape of debt today, in particular - who are the major creditors and debtors; what is the legal basis of the debt issued, what are the main financing instruments; and what are the terms of the bond. This document is an excerpt of the forthcoming book from Oxford University Press and the IMF that is designed to connect the multiple aspects of sovereign debt policy into one coherent text. For further information please go to our focus: Sovereign Debt: A Guide for Economists and Practitioners