Reinhart, Carmen, and Miguel Angel Santos. "From Financial Repression to External Distress: The Case of Venezuela." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP15-018, April 2015.


The literature on external default has stressed the existence of the so-­called debt­-intolerance puzzle: developing nations tend to default at debt-­to-­GDP ratios well bellow those of developed countries. The underestimation or plain omission of domestic debt may account for a fraction of that puzzle. We calculate fiscal revenues coming from financial repression using different methodologies for the case of Venezuela, and look at their correspondence with comprehensive measures of capital flight. In particular, we add to the standard measure of capital flight the over-­invoicing of imports, rife in periods of exchange controls. We find that financial repression accounts for public revenues similar to those of OECD economies, in spite of the latter having much higher domestic debt-­to-­GDP ratios. We also find that financial repression and capital flight are significantly higher in years of exchange controls and interest rate caps. We interpret this as significant evidence suggesting a link between domestic disequilibrium and a weakening of the net foreign asset position via capital flight.