Citations (2)


Footnotes (72)



What Iraq and Argentina Might Learn from Each Other

Anna Gelpern

Georgetown University Law Center

Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 6, p. 391, Summer 2005
Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Paper No. 013

Iraq and Argentina each launched a $100 billion debt restructuring last year. The two cases are rarely mentioned together. Most think of Argentina as the quintessential case of financial globalization gone awry - a lapsed market reformer that sank under the weight of (depending on your perspective) misguided liberalization or its own financial chutzpah, and took with it Argentine depositors, Italian retirees, Japanese banks, and offshore investment funds. Iraq's debt has a distinctly preglobalization flavor. Most of its obligations precede the recent wave of financial liberalization. In the words of Iraq's own advisers, its debt restructuring is a quintessential geopolitical case, a classic outlier framed by strategic more than financial concerns. Aside from the obvious intuition that no case of government debt is immune from politics and no multibillion dollar restructuring is devoid of finance, Argentina and Iraq appear to be on opposite ends of the finance-politics spectrum. Despite, or because of this distance between them, each of these two restructurings offers insights for policy and doctrinal problems normally associated with the other. This essay focuses on two such problems: shielding sovereign debtors from lawsuits, now most acutely associated with Argentina, and restructuring debts inherited from bad regimes, such as those Iraq had incurred under Saddam Hussein. Early evidence reveals that existing legal, policy and financial techniques offer governments considerable flexibility to achieve deep debt relief and frame it in the political terms of their choice. These techniques, invoked ad hoc with the blessing of major economic powers and accepted by the financial markets, help preempt the emergence of more radical doctrines such as sovereign bankruptcy and odious debt.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 25

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: February 15, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Gelpern, Anna, What Iraq and Argentina Might Learn from Each Other. Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 6, p. 391, Summer 2005; Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Paper No. 013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=884203

Contact Information

Anna Gelpern (Contact Author)
Georgetown University Law Center ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,434
Downloads: 233
Download Rank: 103,348
Citations:  2
Footnotes:  72