The volume of public sector debt issued in developing countries has grown substantially in recent years, but consistent data on the public sector debt have not been generally available until now. As part of the Open Data Initiative, the World Bank is launching an online, quarterly, Public Sector Debt database developed in partnership with the IMF and allows researchers and policymakers to explore questions about debt management in a comprehensive manner. This new database promotes consistency and comparability across countries by standardizing the treatment of public sector debt, valuation methods, and debt instruments, and by identifying, where possible, the debt of central, state, and local governments as well as extra-budgetary agencies and funds.
“We expect that policymakers and analysts will find this online database, updated on a quarterly basis, to be a valuable tool,” said Shaida Badiee, Director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group. “For the first time, they will have easy access to a one-stop shop that offers comprehensive public sector debt data that is timely and of high quality. We hope that this will contribute to sound macroeconomic policymaking, and that more countries will join this initiative.”
Public sector debt data are of most interest for economic policy making because of the implications for local financial markets, such as effect on liquidity, crowding out of other borrowers, and pressures on interest rates. The size of public sector debt markets in emerging markets has grown dramatically since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Emerging market countries have increased issuance of local currency denominated debt in domestic markets to correct currency and maturity mismatches. According to BIS, as of June 30, 2008, the estimated size of local currency debt markets was about US$7 trillion. Indeed, it is an indicator of an emerging financial market that there is local issue of debt securities.
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