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Sovereign Debt Crises
What Have We Learned?


Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Kunibert Raffer, Alfredo Calcagno, Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, Thiago de Moraes Moreira, Adam Feibelman, Juergen Kaiser, Manuel F. Montes, Philip Pilkington, Marion Pircher, Oscar Ugarteche Galarza, Rodrigo Delgado Méndez, José Castro Caldas, Daniel D. Bradlow, Elizabeth Thurbon, José Antonio Alonso
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  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316649947

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About the Authors
  • There is an obvious need to learn more about why some countries succeed and others fail when dealing with debt crises. Why do some sovereign debtors overcome economic problems very quickly and at minor human rights costs for their people, while others remain trapped by debts for years struggling with overwhelming debt burdens and exacerbating economic problems and human suffering? This book analyzes fourteen unique or singular country cases of sovereign debt problems that differ characteristically from the 'ordinary' debtor countries, and have not yet received enough or proper attention - some regarded as successful, some as unsuccessful in dealing with debt crises. The aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the policy options available to countries struggling with debt problems, or how to resolve a debt overhang while protecting human rights, the Rule of Law and the debtor's economic recovery.

    • Presents a systemic study of debt and financial crises to provide a more consistent understanding to those interested in debt and financial issues
    • Uses concrete case studies to propose lessons to be learned on how to deal with debt and financial crises
    • Challenges conventional wisdom on how to prevent or minimize the negative effects of debt and financial crises to contribute to the policy and academic debate
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Countries respond to sovereign debt crises in remarkably different ways and with remarkably different results. Some are handled well and produce only limited social, financial and political disruption. Others are mangled, with terrible consequences both for the citizens of the debtor country and the country's creditors. The essays compiled by Messrs, Bohoslavsky and Raffer in this timely book survey these precedents and astutely distil the relevant lessons.' Lee C. Buchheit, Cleary, Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP

    'Sovereign debt crises have always been with us, and they always will be, like it or not. The contributors to this book provide a detailed look back at some of the most important episodes. In addition, and more importantly, they offer a way forward. Their ideas for how to handle such crises are much needed; one can only hope that the international policy community will listen.' Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

    'The indispensable guide to the modern history of debt crises.' James K. Galbraith, author of Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe

    'This volume confronts a vital question - why do sovereign debt crises persist, despite the vast intellectual and policy effort invested in fighting them? The book's core contribution is to cast a wide net geographically, with broad country coverage, temporally, by examining developments before and after the acknowledged crisis period, and analytically, by embracing legal, historical, philosophical, and economic perspectives on the debt problem. That the authors are able to distill all this knowledge into pragmatic prescriptions for incorporating human rights and human welfare into debt thinking is an achievement to celebrate.' Anna Gelpern, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316649947
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 151 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 23 b/w illus. 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: we need to learn from our experience Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky and Kunibert Raffer
    2. Managing public debt crisis in Argentina: between sovereignty and subordination Alfredo Calcagno
    3. Why developing countries should not incur foreign debt: the Brazilian experience Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira and Thiago de Moraes Moreira
    4. Ecuador's 2008–9 debt restructuring: a special case? Adam Feibelman
    5. Greece: an EU-inflicted catastrophe Kunibert Raffer
    6. Grenada: a small island developing state needs new ways out of its debt Juergen Kaiser
    7. Iceland: a human rights sensitive approach to deal with financial crises Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
    8. Indonesia's 1997–8 economic crisis: a teachable case wasted Manuel F. Montes
    9. The Irish sovereign debt crisis post–2009: a lesson on why countries should never enter into unsustainable currency unions Philip Pilkington
    10. Short-term capital controls and Malaysia's fast recovery after the East-Asian crisis Marion Pircher
    11. Sovereign debt: lessons from the Mexican experience Oscar Ugarteche Galarza and Rodrigo Delgado Méndez
    12. Portugal's austerity bailout: lessons of a dangerous experiment José Castro Caldas
    13. Don't waste a serious crisis: lessons from South Africa's debt crisis Daniel D. Bradlow
    14. Lessons from South Korea: a developmental mindset makes a difference when governing the financial economy Elizabeth Thurbon
    15. The Spanish crisis: the trouble of managing debt overhang in an imperfect monetary union José Antonio Alonso
    16. Conclusions: what has been learned? Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky and Kunibert Raffer.

  • Editors

    Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, United Nations
    Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky is a United Nations Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights. He previously worked at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and as a consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). A doctor of law with wide experience in international relations and litigation, he is the author of numerous books and articles on sovereign financing, economic complicity, and human rights.

    Kunibert Raffer
    Kunibert Raffer was an associate professor (retired September 2016) at the Department of Economics, Universität Wien, Austria; Honorary Professor of the Universidad Nacional de Río Negro, Argentina; member of the Sovereign Bankruptcy Group of the International Law Association; 1989 Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (Sussex) invited by Sir Hans (HW) Singer with whom he co-authored two books; and 1990–93 Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Commerce, University of Birmingham. In 1998 he participated in the United Nations Development Programme's research project 'International Development Cooperation and Global Public Goods.' He is a former lecturer at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (on debt and the Millennium Development Goals), and he proposed a model of sovereign insolvency (Raffer Proposal).


    Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Kunibert Raffer, Alfredo Calcagno, Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, Thiago de Moraes Moreira, Adam Feibelman, Juergen Kaiser, Manuel F. Montes, Philip Pilkington, Marion Pircher, Oscar Ugarteche Galarza, Rodrigo Delgado Méndez, José Castro Caldas, Daniel D. Bradlow, Elizabeth Thurbon, José Antonio Alonso

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