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Public Power and Private Purpose: Odious Debt and the Political Economy of Hegemony


Louis A. Pérez Jr.


University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of History

Deborah M. Weissman


University of North Carolina School of Law


North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 32, June 2007
UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 978161

Abstract:     
This Article examines the process by which overlapping interests between private bankers and government translates into influence and power mediated through the use of bank loans as instruments of foreign policy. The article suggests the market transactions often act as a matter of U.S. interests. It makes use of historical narratives not only as means to document the origins of the Odious Debt doctrine, but also to demonstrate the complexity attending efforts to create an Odious Debt doctrine that might function in law. The International Lending Supervision Act, the Baker plan and Brady initiative - policies reinforced through legal interpretations, tax and revenue rules and regulations, SEC regulations - and a host of other statutes that intersect banking and foreign policy interests suggest that market forces rarely act independently of U.S. interests. Foreign banking is politicized and foreign policy is commercialized.

The article also addresses the ideological and procedural limitations of the use of private law as a conceptual framework for resolving odious debt. The specific case studies addressed in the article, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Costa Rica, serve to underscore the necessity of including an analysis of the realpolitik of banking and foreign policy and the inexorable entanglement of private financial interests with national interests. The article argues that the realpolitik of lending activity requires a debt resolution framework that addresses not only the circumstances of the sovereign debtor, or the practices of creditor banks, but the circumstances of U.S. interests in which all such transactions are conceived and conducted.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

Keywords: Sovereign Debt, Odious Debt, Foreign Policy, Private Law, Banking Regulations, Cuba, Santo Domingo, Law and History

JEL Classification: F34, G15, G20, G21, G24, G28, H63, H87, N1, N2, P1

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Date posted: April 3, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Pérez, Louis A. and Weissman, Deborah M., Public Power and Private Purpose: Odious Debt and the Political Economy of Hegemony. North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 32, June 2007; UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 978161. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=978161

Contact Information

Louis A. Pérez Jr.
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of History ( email )
United States
Deborah M. Weissman (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-3564 (Phone)
919-962-3375 (Fax)

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