Category: Odious Debts

Chapter 11 – The business of the state

(March 19, 2009) Few know with confidence how the universe came into being but if God had said `let there be light’ while in Colombia, He would not have had enough money left for the rest of creation. Because the truth is that in a country where there are projects which have cost a lot, few have cost as much as the expansion of the electric sector during the last ten years.

Chapter 9 – Givers and takers

(March 18, 2009) Most taxpayers in the rich industrialized countries believe, as the Pearson Commission inquiry into foreign aid believed, that "it is only right for those who have to share with those who have not." Much of the Western World’s sharing, though, has been in the form of loans, not gifts. The Third World has borrowed about one-third of the $400 billion in foreign aid that it has received from the rich countries’ national aid agencies.

Chapter 8 – The new mercantilists

(March 18, 2009) ONE YEAR BEFORE MEXICO touched off the Third World’s debt crisis by suspending payments to foreign creditors, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rose proudly to announce in the House of Commons that her government had just committed millions to the Mexican government to build the $2 billion Sicartsa steel plant:


(March 18, 2009) Friends and colleagues have been exceptionally generous in helping me finish this book. Margaret Barber deserves special thanks for her painstaking research, and for her good cheer throughout. I am also especially grateful to Susan Fitzmaurice for her artistic judgement and for her commitment to the complicated task of producing this book. Both made an otherwise stressful job a joy.

Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption, And the Third World’s Environmental Legacy

(March 18, 2009) We’ve all heard of the Third World’s debt crisis, of hopelessly poor nations unable to pay their debts, and of the human suffering and environmental consequences of their desperate predicament. Amid emotional calls from some to forgive the debt outright come the sober solutions from bankers and bureaucrats, with their seemingly unending stream of Brady and Baker Plans, and bewildering variants of them.

Ecuador hangs tough

(January 1, 2009) After months of threats, the government of Ecuador has made good on its promise to forego payment of foreign loans deemed illegitimate by the country’s debt audit commission. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that his country would not be paying $30.6 million interest due Dec. 15 on its 2012 global bonds after the commission claimed the debt had been ‘illegally’ acquired by past administrations.

Glitch in the System

(December 23, 2008) Ecuador’s Conscientious Default. When the government of Ecuador failed to make a scheduled interest payment on private bonds this month, it was hardly the first time a country had defaulted in the middle of a financial crisis. In fact, it wasn’t even the first time for Ecuador. The small South American country did so just 10 years ago, at a time when the economy was reeling from natural disasters and a drop in oil prices.