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How Strategically is Public Debt Being Managed Around the Globe? A Survey on Public Debt Management Strategies

This note describes the results of a 2013 World Bank survey of member countries about their debt management strategies. Out of a sample of 117 participating countries, 60% of countries have a formal debt management strategy in place. For the countries that have a strategy, results indicate that: (i) 77% make the details of the debt strategy public; (ii) 76% use some type of strategic target to define the debt strategy; (iii) 71% ground the debt strategy on quantitative analysis; (iv) in the vast majority, the strategy is approved by a high-level authority; and (v) in 44% of the cases the strategy is supported by a legal framework. However, only a limited number of countries (18 countries or 15%) satisfy all these requirements simultaneously. Results are also broken-down by income level, World Bank region, and level of indebtedness.

Results suggest: (i) a need to further strengthen the capacity of countries to develop a debt management strategy; (ii) a need to focus particularly on strengthening the capacity of lower-income countries to undertake quantitative analysis in developing a strategy; (iii) a need for further discussion on the use of stochastic versus deterministic models; and (iv) a need to strengthen the debt management legal framework to support strategy development.

Compared with a similar survey carried out in 2007, these latest results indicate a significant increase in the use of strategic targets to define the debt strategy. However, no relevant changes are noted in having a strategy in place or making it public.