Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 4

Sovereign Defaults and International Trade: Germany and its Creditors in the 1930s

Olivier Accominotti, Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, , Thilo N. H. Albers, Department of Economics, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, , Philipp Kessler, Statistisches Bundesamt, Germany, Kim Oosterlinck, Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium,
Suggested Citation
Olivier Accominotti, Thilo N. H. Albers, Philipp Kessler and Kim Oosterlinck (2024), "Sovereign Defaults and International Trade: Germany and its Creditors in the 1930s", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 4, pp 459-500.

Publication Date: 26 Feb 2024
© 2024 O. Accominotti et al.
Sovereign risktradecreditor discriminationcommercial policy


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In this article:
Germany's External Debt, the Transfer Problem, and Bilateral Clearing Systems 
The Distributional Struggle between Creditor Countries 
The Domestic Politics of Trade Retaliation and Support 
Archival Sources 


This paper argues that international and domestic political economy factors are key determinants of creditor countries' commercial policy responses to sovereign debt defaults. We illustrate this argument using a unique historical case study: the German external default of the 1930s. Our new historical narrative of this episode reveals that the various creditor countries adopted markedly different trade policy responses to the default depending on their degree of economic leverage on Germany and on the relative political influence of various interest groups within their domestic economy. These factors account for the pattern of Germany's bilateral trade with the different creditor countries during the 1930s as well as for the differential treatment of various countries' bondholders by the German government.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 4 Special Issue: The Political Economy of the Interwar Period
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.