A Model of Safe Asset Determination

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What makes an asset a “safe” asset? We study a model where two countries each issue sovereign bonds to satisfy investors’ safe asset demands. The countries differ in the float of their bonds and the fun-damental resources available to rollover debts. A sovereign’s debt is safer if its fundamentals are strong relative to other possible safe assets, not merely strong on an absolute basis. If demand for safe assets is high, a large float enhances safety through a market depth benefit. If demand for safe assets is low, then large debt size is a negative as rollover risk looms large.

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