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Welcome Back Anna Gelpern

posted by Adam Levitin

The Slips is pleased to welcome back Professor Anna Gelpern of American University's Washington College of Law for another guest bloggership.  Anna's written extensively on sovereign debt crises (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, among other papers), and we are thrilled to provide a platform for her to share her thoughts on Greece, Dubai, Ecuador, and any other sovereign (including California and Illinois).  (She's also written a great paper on mortgage-backed securities workouts, which have some of the same collective action problems as sovereign debt workouts....) 

The usual repast at the Slips is consumer and business credit in the United States, but we're always interested in credit more broadly, including comparative credit systems and sovereign debt.  Unfortunately, given US government budget deficits, we may all want to become a little better versed in sovereign debt issues. 

A very brief primer for our readers who are not familiar with sovereign debt issues.  Sovereign debt presents four critical differences from consumer or corporate debt.  First, it is very hard to collect if the sovereign doesn't pay; Argentina's creditors have been trying for years to lay their hands on Argentine state assets, but there are few outside of the Argentina.  Second, there is no bankruptcy option for a sovereign; there is no legal mechanism for discharging debt at less than 100 cents on the dollar.  Third, sovereign debt is intimately tied up in both domestic politics and the politics of international relations.   And fourth, sovereign debt is highly intertwined with currency markets.  These four factors are central in shaping sovereign debt crises.  Again, welcome back Professor Anna Gelpern. 


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