The economics profession has an unfortunate tendency to view recent experience inthe narrow window provided by standard datasets. With a few notable exceptions, cross-country empirical studies on financial crises typically begin in 1980 and are limited inseveral other important respects.
Yet an event that is rare in a three decade span may notbe all that rare when placed in a broader context.This paper introduces a comprehensive new historical database for studyinginternational debt and banking crises, inflation, currency crashes and debasements. Thedata covers sixty-six countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, andOceania. The range of variables encompasses, among many other dimensions, external anddomestic debt, trade, GNP, inflation, exchange rates, interest rates, and commodity prices.The coverage spans eight centuries, generally going back to the date of independence formost countries, and well into the colonial period for some. As we detail in an annotatedappendix, the construction of our dataset has built heavily on the work of earlier scholars.However, it also includes a considerable amount of new material from diverse primary andsecondary sources. In addition to a systematic dating of external debt and exchange ratecrises, the appendix to this paper also catalogues dates for domestic inflation and bankingcrises. For the dating of sovereign defaults on domestic (mostly local currency) debt, seeReinhart and Rogoff (2008).The paper is organized as follows. Section II summarizes highlights from a firstview of the extended dataset, with special reference to the current conjuncture. Amongother things, we note that policymakers should not be overly cheered by the absence of major external defaults from 2003 to 2007, after the wave of defaults in the preceding two
Among many important previous studies include work by Bordo, Eichengreen, Lindert, Morton and Taylor.