Who Owes Who?: 50 Questions about World Debt

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The huge foreign debt of developing countries has become a mechanism of domination and means of recolonization that prevents any meaningful and sustainable human development. The policies pursued by the indebted countries' governments have usually been decided by their creditors rather than by the authorities of the countries concerned. As for the initiative to lighten the debt burden, launched with much fanfare by the G7, the IMF and the World Bank under pressure from the largest ever petition in human history, ...

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Who Owes Who?: 50 Questions about World Debt

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Overview

The huge foreign debt of developing countries has become a mechanism of domination and means of recolonization that prevents any meaningful and sustainable human development. The policies pursued by the indebted countries' governments have usually been decided by their creditors rather than by the authorities of the countries concerned. As for the initiative to lighten the debt burden, launched with much fanfare by the G7, the IMF and the World Bank under pressure from the largest ever petition in human history, it has made clear its limits. In 50 questions and answers, this book explains in a simple but precise manner how and why the debt impasse has been arrived at. Illustrated with figures, maps and tables, it details the roles of the various actors involved, the mesh in which indebted countries are caught, and the various alternatives to future indebtedness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781842774274
  • Publisher: Zed Books
  • Publication date: 8/7/2004
  • Series: Global Issues Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.03 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Damien Millet is a mathematics teacher, secretary general of The Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt (CADTM), a member of ATTAC, and contributor to the jourbanal Alternative (Niger).

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist, president of CADTM, member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, and of the scientific committee of ATTAC in France.

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Table of Contents

The Third World In Globalization
• What is the Third World?
• Are the Conditions of the Very Poorest People Improving?
• What Are the Different Kinds of Debt?
• What Has Been the Impact of the Foreign Debt On Human Development?
• The Origins of the Debt of the Developing Countries
• Who Have Been the Leading Promoters of Developing Country Indebtedness?
• What is the Geopolitical Context In Which Super-Indebtedness Has Taken Place?
• Who Have Been the Leading Actors of Indebtedness Within Developing Countries and How Have they Made Use of What they Borrowed?
• The Debt Crisis
• How Can One Explain the Debt Crisis?
• How Has the External Debt Grown Over the Past 30 Years?
• How Have the Creditors Organized Themselves In the Face of the Debt Crisis?
• The Management of the Debt Crisis
• Who is the Key Actor In the Management of the Debt Crisis?
• How Does the IMF Operate?
• How Does the World Bank Operate?
• What is the Economic Logic Advocated by the IMF and World Bank?
• What Are the Short-Term Measures Forced On Countries by Structural Adjustment, and What Have Been their Consequences?
• What Are the Long-Term Measures Forced On Countries by Structural Adjustment, and What Have Been Their Consequences?
• What is the Role of the Paris Club?
• Have All Developing Countries Been Caught Up In the Same Situation?
• Anatomy of the Developing Countries' Debt
• What Does the External Debt Consist of?
• Who Are the Main Creditors of Particular Groups of Developing Countries?
• How Has the Relative Importance of the Different Creditors Altered During the Course of the Past 30 Years?
• Are Developing Countries Paying Back Their Debts?
• How is Financial Instability Related To the Debt Being Managed?
• Moves To Reduce the Debt Burden, and the Steps Now In Train
• How Did the Initiative To Reduce the Debt Burden Come About?
• What is the HIPC Initiative?
• What Have Been Its Results In Practice?
• What Are Its Limitations?
• What is NEPAD—the New Economic Partnership For African Development?
• What Are Vulture Funds?
• Debt Cancellations and Service Payment Suspensions In the Past
• Has there Ever Been A Debt Cancellation?
• Why Do Governments In the South Continue To Pay Back the Debt?
• The Case For Cancelling the Debt Burden of Developing Countries
• Would Debt Cancellation Be Sufficient To Ensure the Development of Developing Countries?
• What Are the Moral Arguments In Favour of Debt Cancellation?
• The Political Arguments—What Are They?
• The Economic Arguments—What Are They?
• The Legal Arguments—What Are They?
• The Environmental Arguments—What Are They?
• The Religious Arguments—What Are They?
• f0Who Owes Whom?
• Should Debt Cancellation Be Conditional?
• issues At Stake In Debt Cancellation
• If Creditors Decided To Cancel the Debt, Would It Provoke A Worldwide Financial Crisis?
• Would Debt Cancellation Trigger An Impoverishment of the North, Notably For Taxpayers?
• How Would It Be Possible To Find Alternative Sources of Capital For Third World Development?
• Wouldn't Debt Cancellation Benefit Those Dictatorial Regimes Currently In Office?
• How Would One Avoid A New Round of Indebtedness After Any Debt Cancellation?
• Would It Be Necessary To Abandon Future Recourse To International Borrowing?
• is It Possible To Compare the External Debt of Developing Countries With the Northern Countries' Public Debt?
• How In Practice Can We Achieve A Debt Cancellation and A General Improvement In the Human Condition?
• The International Debt Cancellation Campaign
• How Was the International Campaign In Favour of Outright Debt Cancellation Begun?
• How Was CADTM Founded?
• List of Countries Affected
• Glossary of Terms
• Reading List
• Campaign Resources

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2004

    Flawed account of the need to cancel odious debts

    Millet is the General Secretary of CADTM France (Comite pour l'Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde). Toussaint is the President of CADTM and a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum. Their book examines the origins of the developing countries' debts, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's debt management, the efforts to reduce the debts and most important, the moral, political, economic and legal case for cancelling the debts. As Fidel Castro observed in 2000, 'The debt has already been amply repaid, given the terms under which it was contracted, the arbitrary and vertiginous growth of interest rates on the dollar during the preceding decade and the fall in prices of the basic products which are the fundamental source of revenue for countries still needing to develop. The debt has become a self-perpetuating vicious circle where new debts are taken out to pay off the interest on standing ones.' The authors quote the Russian legal theorist Alexander Nahum Sack who wrote, 'If a despotic power contracts a debt, not according to the needs and interests of the State, but to fortify the despotic regime, to put down the population which would combat it, this debt is odious for the population of the entire State. This debt is not binding for the nation, it is the debt of a regime, the personal debt of the power which contracted it. Consequently, it falls when that power falls.' So in 1776, the new revolutionary state of the USA repudiated all the debts due to bankers in London. Similarly, in 1917 the Bolshevik government repudiated the Tsar's debts to British and French banks. The authors cite a Touareg proverb, 'What you do for the others without the others, is against the others.' This hits the capitalist globalisers, and also the anarchists whose federal networks of committee and forums mirror their false internationalism. The workers in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America do not need international committees or social forums to tell them what to do. They will decide when how they cancel their rulers' debts.

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