This paper measures “debt disputes” between governments and foreign private creditors in periods of sovereign debt crises. We construct an index of government coerciveness, consisting of 9 objective sub-indicators. Each of these sub-indicators captures unilateral government actions imposed on foreign banks and bondholders. The results provide the first systematic account of debt crises that goes beyond a binary categorization of default versus non-default. Overall, government behavior and rhetoric show a strong variability, ranging from highly confrontational to very smooth crisis resolution processes. In a preliminary analysis on the determinants of coercive behavior, we find political insti- tutions to be significant, while economic and financial factors play a lesser role. These results open up an agenda for future research.