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Too Little, Too LateThe Quest to Resolve Sovereign Debt Crises$
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Martin Guzman, José Antonio Ocampo, and Joseph E. Stiglitz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231179263

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231179263.001.0001

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Creating a Framework for Sovereign Debt Restructuring That Works

Creating a Framework for Sovereign Debt Restructuring That Works

(p.3) Chapter 1 Creating a Framework for Sovereign Debt Restructuring That Works
Too Little, Too Late

Martin Guzman

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Columbia University Press

Recent controversies surrounding sovereign debt restructurings show the weaknesses of the current market-based system in achieving efficient and fair solutions to sovereign debt crises. This article reviews the existing problems and proposes solutions. It argues that improvements in the language of contracts, although beneficial, cannot provide a comprehensive, efficient, and equitable solution to the problems faced in restructurings–but there are improvements within the contractual approach that should be implemented. Ultimately, the contractual approach must be complemented by a multinational legal framework that facilitates restructurings based on principles of efficiency and equity. Given the current geopolitical constraints, in the short-run we advocate the implementation of a “soft law” approach, built on the recognition of the limitations of the private contractual approach and on a set of principles – most importantly, the restoration of sovereign immunity – over which there may be consensus. We suggest that in a context of political economy tensions it should be impossible for a government to sign away the sovereign immunity either for itself or successor governments. The framework could be implemented through the United Nations, or it could prompt the creation of a new institution.

Keywords:   Sovereign Debt Crises, Sovereign Debt Restructuring, Debt Contracts, International Lending

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