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Call for papers

In this unique international and interdisciplinary conference, we welcome applications from economists, finance experts, historians, lawyers, political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists working in theoretical and empirical areas related to sovereign debt. Contributions from emerging scholars and junior policymakers are highly encouraged. DebtCon does not reimburse speaker travel expenses; however, selected scholars who are unable to travel to DebtCon4 for lack of funding may contact the organizers to help identify potential sources of financial support.

The objective of DebtCon4 is to discuss state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research on sovereign debt and related policy issues, and to foster interaction among academics, senior policymakers, supervisors, industry representatives and other practitioners. The conference will include both high-level roundtables, where practice, policy and research will meet, and parallel sessions, where research papers will be presented. Emerging scholars will have the opportunity to present their work in an emerging-scholars side-event.



The organising committee encourages original contributions from different disciplines by scholars and practitioners from around the globe, preferably fitting in the following four DebtCon4 topics:

1. Debt sustainability and sovereign vulnerabilities

Standard debt sustainability analysis relies on relatively rough techniques for combining empirical regularities, economic insights and political economy assessments. Several factors have revealed the need to reassess the prevailing approaches to debt sustainability analysis: the role of crisis resolution institutions in redefining the value of debt; debt market developments, especially in emerging countries; a new, possibly persistent but not necessarily permanent negative risk-free rate context; disappointing growth prospects; heightened fiscal risks arising from climate-related shocks; a globally changing political landscape; as well as a new analysis on the value of sovereign debt.

2. Market volatility and emerging markets’ sovereign debt

In recent times several emerging economies have improved their domestic monetary, fiscal and financial policy frameworks substantially, to the point where they often favourably compare to those of certain advanced economies. At the same time, financial account liberalization has increased volatility and therefore the vulnerability of some emerging economies. This calls for a better understanding of the determinants of sudden stops and for a reassessment of the existing policy frameworks. Have market participants and policymakers drawn the right conclusions from these developments?

3. The expanding role of new creditors’ overseas lending in global finance

Historically, low-income countries mostly borrowed from the international financial institutions and from bilateral creditors that belong to the Paris Club. In recent years, this group of low-income countries started relying more on commercial debt by issuing bonds or borrowing from international banks, and on bilateral lenders that are not part of the Paris Club. While a diversification of funding sources can be regarded as a welcome development, commercial lenders tend to charge higher interest rates and their lending flows tend to be more procyclical than official debt flows. The recent presence of non-traditional bilateral lenders generates issues of data availability and transparency, complicates creditor coordination and in some cases raises new concerns relating to debt sustainability.

4. Revising the European framework on sovereign debt and sovereign risk

After the euro area crisis and several years of reform standstill, the regulatory and supervisory framework underpinning Europe’s sovereign debt markets is again undergoing an intense review period. Following the introduction of single-limb collective action clauses, the European Stability Mechanism is to be given a stronger role in the assessment of sovereign solvency. Reform plans under discussion range from the (possibly radical) simplification of the Stability and Growth Pact to the introduction of (possibly risk-weighted and state-dependent) concentration charges of sovereign debt holdings. Reform plans also include the creation of a European safe asset which could take a myriad of operational forms. Policy-relevant contributions from different social science perspectives can greatly add to this analytical and policy debate.

The committee also welcomes original academic or policy-relevant contributions on the topics below, including country case-studies and other related ones:

  • The international political economy and governance of sovereign debt
  • Changing architecture of sovereign debt management
  • Central banks, sovereign-banking doom loop and sovereign debt management
  • Official lending: bail-outs and bail-ins
  • Credibility, commitment and sovereign default
  • Debt and debt-forgiveness: human rights, civil society and political conflicts
  • Historical perspectives on the law and economics of sovereign bond markets
  • Sovereign debt contract design and pricing (collective action clauses, contingent sovereign debt)
  • When climate meets finance: use (and abuse) of green bonds


To submit your paper, please send an abstract (or a full paper) by 15 April 2020. The following conditions apply:

  • Abstracts may not exceed 1.500 words
  • Presentations should fit the topics of the conference
  • Each contribution should indicate a preference for being included in a policy-academic roundtable, or for being presented as a research paper.
  • The decision on admitted presenters will be taken by the Scientific Committee of the conference and communicated to contributing authors by 30 May 2020.
  • Final papers are due by 30 June 2020.

To apply, fill out this form:

The receipt of all proposals will be acknowledged immediately. Should you have not received the confirmation email, first check your spam filter, then contact the organisers if the problem persists.  


For any question on the application procedure, please contact Maria Ana Barata at Maria.Barata@EUI.eu.