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Introduction: The Players and the Game of Sovereign Debt [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 21.1 (Spring 2007)

March 23, 2007

This essay characterizes the main actors and how they operate during a buildup of government foreign debt and after a default on payments. These actors are the borrowing governments, domestic and foreign commercial banks, purchasers of government bonds, other governments lending to the debtor, and multilateral institutions (the International Monetary Fund and development banks). As there is no international sovereign analog to national court-supervised bankruptcy in the case of countries, the workout from crises, mainly hitting poorer economies, occurs without legislated rules or an enforcement mechanism, although the IMF (sometimes with the World Bank) serves as an informal umpire for the global financial community

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