Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You should not give debt relief to "odious" debt

A letter to the Financial Times

Sir Alan Beattie in “Vultures unlikely allies in anti-graft cause” July 18 quotes Stephen Rand of the Jubilee Debt Campaign saying “Debt relief should never be used as a weapon of economic coercion by creditors” as implying that debt relief should be awarded even when governments are still corrupt.What is this? As a citizen of a country with a government that I consider quite corrupt, I do not like anyone giving it loans, debt relief or anything whatsoever. Frankly, before corruption is ended most of any debt relief given would just end up allowing these countries and governments addicted to debt, to hit the bars again.If the concept of odious debt is applicable in the sense that some debts should not have to be repaid if contracted in an illegitimate way, castigating the creditor, then the same concept should clearly also apply to the granting of any debt relief, punishing the debtor.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Vulture funds

A letter to the Financial Times
Sir, I write to you with respect to Alan Beattie´s “'Vulture fund' in Zambia debt case gain”, February 16. I might not like it too much if a vulture-fund-manager invited any of my daughters out to celebrate a killing in Zambia debt but, having said that, neither am I so sure that the world would be a better place without the vulture funds.

That some can find opportunities in buying uncollectible loans and squeeze fortunes out of them when others have decided to clean up their books, is just part of the circle of life, and part of the same market mechanism which signals how much, or how little, the loans are worth, since the price of a loan indicates the expectations of collecting on the loan and not the expectations of collecting on a “pardoned” loan. Yes, the vulture funds are into an ugly business, cleaning up among corpses, but, by their sheer presence, they might perhaps even help to reduce the number of corpses.

Most, or perhaps all of the scholar papers on the restructuring of sovereign debt, state as the explicit purpose of the whole exercise, that of enabling the countries to regain access to the international capital markets again (something like the torturer waking up his fainted victim) and so, if you really need to pick on one, you might also choose to do so at that moment in the circle when the new born debt-overhang-ridden countries gets thrown out to start defending itself again from the many dogs-of-finance out there.

There is so much written about freeing up the countries in order for them to access the markets while comparatively so little about how they should go about to avoid repeating the same mistakes that perhaps I should even frown when it is a regular investment banker who knocks on my door and asks for my daughter. I mean what is some hundred of percents on some few millions when compared to some basis point on a couple of billions.