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Abstract

We compare sovereign debt yields in the nineteenth century and today. Using data on nineteenth century Japanese government bonds, and on Korean sovereign debt today we show that foreign investors both then and now use summary indicators to evaluate country risk (the Gold Standard then, IMF packages today). However, "contagion" today is more common than in the past. Events in nineteenth century China hardly caused fluctuations in Japanese yields although capital markets were highly integrated. By contrast, minor events in Asia or Latin America had significant effects on Korean yields in recent years.

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