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Sovereign Defaults

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  • UserMichael Waibel, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Law and the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law
  • ClockMonday 02 March 2009, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseBeves Room, King's College, Cambridge.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Bert Vaux.

Bankruptcy has been a feature of sovereign lending since time immemorial. In 1788 BC, King Rim-Sin of Ur declared all loans null and void. The English King Edward III cancelled debts incurred to finance the Hundred Years’ war in the 14th century. France defaulted on its debt shortly after the French Revolution. When the Soviets came to power in 1917, they repudiated Tsarist debt. European countries defaulted on their sovereign debt in the interwar period, and many Latin American countries did so during the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s. Argentina, the first major default of the 21st century, was only the final major chapter in the long history of sovereign overindebtedness. Rapid accumulation of sovereign debt since the start of the global economic crisis last year could usher in a new wave of sovereign defaults over the next decade. Drawing on historical examples, my talk will give an overview of how law deals with countries that default on their payment obligations. It will also set out some policy options for resolving future sovereign debt crises more effectively.

This talk is part of the King's Occasional Lectures series.

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