Summary of Restructuring Sovereign Debt

The Case for Ad-Hoc Machinery

Brookings Institution Press, more...

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Restructuring Sovereign Debt book summary
Why developing nations' debt and bankruptcy problems should be handled case by case, not by rigid international models.

Rating

6 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

4 Style

Recommendation

Author Lex Rieffel writes with authority on the history of developing countries' debt crises. He describes this difficult and complex subject concisely and meticulously. To be sure, he wrote this text as an argument for a specific policy objective (keeping flexibility in the sovereign debt workout process), and does not shy away from hammering his point home multiple times. However, his agenda in no way diminishes the accuracy of his history or his factual descriptions of the entities that shaped it. The first four chapters are an excellent primer on the subject, and could stand alone. The later chapters provide a wealth of detail, perfect for those who need it, albeit a bit tedious for anyone not directly involved in sovereign lending. getAbstract recommends this book to bankers involved in making loans to foreign countries, to government policymakers in borrower countries and lender countries, and to anyone seeking a detailed exploration of how countries pay their debts.

In this summary, you will learn

  • The history of the international financial system for dealing with the debts of insolvent governments
  • How four major debt crises have shaped the flexible system that exists today
  • Why keeping the system flexible will solve future debt crises better than adopting a highly structured international workout standard
 

Summary

Anatomy of a Workout
Governments and government agencies borrow money, just as individuals and corporations do. The money owed is called sovereign debt, to distinguish it from the debts incurred by people and companies. An individual country's laws cannot regulate sovereign lending. Yet...
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About the Author

Lex Rieffel spent 18 years with the U.S. Treasury Department, participating in negotiations, with borrower nations working with the International Monetary Fund and helping the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He then spent seven years as the senior adviser for multilateral policy issues at the Institute for International Finance. He is currently teaching, consulting and writing.


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