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A sovereign bond is a bond issued by a national government. The term usually refers to bonds issued in foreign currencies, while bonds issued by national governments in the country's own currency are referred to as government bonds. The total amount owed to the holders of the sovereign bonds is called sovereign debt.

Nations with very high or unpredictable inflation or with unstable exchange rates often find it uneconomic to issue bonds in their own currencies and so are forced to issue bonds denominated in more stable foreign currencies. This raises the issue of sovereign default if the nation cannot afford to repurchase the necessary foreign currency at bond repayment time. Due to the risk of default, investors require the bonds to be issued with a higher yield. This makes the debt more expensive to service, increasing risk of default. In the event of default, unlike a corporation or even a municipal subdivision, a nation cannot file for bankruptcy. But on the rare occasions that a default occurs, just as in defaults on corporate bonds, recent practice has been that the defaulting borrower presents an exchange offer to its bond holders in an effort to restructure the sovereign debt, as has been the case in US dollar denominated bonds issued by Perumarker (1996) and Argentinamarker (2001). However, getting the bond holders to accept an exchange offer has become very difficult, something caused by the holdout problem.

During the early 1980s, the sovereign bonds of developing nations were a popular investment for Western banks. These created many problems when some nations found it difficult to repay those bonds.

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