The Political Economy of Sovereign Bond Ratings (and Travel)

by Chris Borgen

Thomas Barnett has pointed out a map in Business Week that is coded for the sovereign bond rating of each country (the map is a click-through from this page).  What Barnett calls the “Old Core” (the U.S.,  Canada, western Europe, etc.) tend to have the highest ratings, the “New Core” (Brazil, Russia, India, China and other rising powers) have the next highest group of ratings and “Gap” states (which are relatively disconnected from the global economy) have the lowest ratings.

It is interesting to flip between the bond rating map, and Foreign Policy’s failed states map.  They track to each other fairly well. Moreover, it also has a decent correlation with this map that charts travel times to major cities. Comparing the transportation map to the bond rating and failed state maps, one sees that, generally speaking, the better a country is connected to world travel, the more stable its government and the better-rated its economy. Don’t ask me which came first, though, the connectivity or the stability…

One Response

  1. Fascinating.  Really interesting reading. I’ve been re-reading James MacDonald’s history of debt financing and democracy across history, A Free Nation Deep in Debt, and this fits right in.

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