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Global Debt Sustainability

January 12 , 2023

The Milken Institute organized the 2023 Public Finance Forum. The “Global Debt Sustainability” session was moderated by Karen Kornbluh and counted with the presence of SDF scholar Anna Gelpern as one of the speakers.

Save the Date!
Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference (DebtCon)

April 27 - April 29, 2023

The Sovereign Debt Forum will co-host the next Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference (DebtCon) in the Spring of 2023 with academic partners in the United States and around the world. DebtCon6 will be held Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA). Watch this space for the call for papers and other announcements.


ECB Transmission Protection Instrument: An Anti-Fragmentation Tool in Sovereign Debt Markets

October 31, 2022

The subject of this event was the ECB Transmission Protection Instrument: an anti-fragmentation tool in sovereign debt markets and will be based around a paper prepared for the EP Monetary Dialogue with the ECB. Lee Buchheit, Daniel Gros, Ignazio Angeloni, Luis Garicano, Sara Dietz and SDF´s academic director Rosa Lastra were part of the discussion.

Wither the Common Framework

September 14, 2022

The Sovereign Debt Forum hosted a diverse panel of experts to examine questions surrounding the Common Framework and its ability to provide meaningful debt relief. Moderated by Sean Hagan and Anna Gelpern, this is part of the Sovereign Debt Forum’s regular webinar series on the pressing challenges facing the international community in sovereign debt and related areas. 

Sovereign Debt, IMF Negotiations and the Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka

August 23, 2022

The NYU Gallatin Human Rights Initiative and the Women and Media Collective organized a discussion on the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The conversation was moderated by Professor Vasuki Nesiah and counted with the presence of SDF scholar Anna Gelpern as one of the panelists.

Recent Developments in Sovereign Debt Markets and the Banking Sector in the Euro Area and Worldwide

June 23, 2022

A joint collaboration between the SDF, Queen Mary University of London, Mocomila, and CIRSF brought together a group of experts to discuss the major problems ahead in the functioning of sovereign debt markets, particularly in low-income countries, in light of the recent Covid-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, and a spiral of inflationary tensions leading to a major turn of monetary policy.

Sovereign Debt: An Agenda for The Future

June 21, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. EDT

The world is currently facing an unprecedented level of sovereign debt – and debt is continuing to pile up. The state of sovereign borrowing was critical prior to the pandemic, with several countries already facing limited fiscal space and increasing levels of debt, but the situation has deteriorated, tipping some economies over the edge.

Two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, the debt conundrum has deteriorated considerably. Belize, Ecuador, Suriname and Zambia defaulted on their debt, and other countries are close to joining ranks.  In Africa, external debt costs rose by 1.1% of GDP on average over 2010-2019, offsetting nearly two-thirds of the average increase in tax levels over this period. The impact of the pandemic and the ensuing inflation resulting from world conflict will further increase debt-servicing costs.

In this roundtable, a group of international experts representing some of the key players involved in sovereign debt discussed key areas that require further attention in order to draft an agenda to shape the future of sovereign borrowing and management.

Workshop on “Law, Debt and Sustainability: Re-thinking DSAs”

June 20, 2022

A small group of experts was brought together by SDF scholars to discuss the definition and effect of economic, environmental, social, and governance (EESG) factors on sovereign debt sustainability. The group of experts considered how the incorporation of these factors into DSAs could improve assessment of financial and macroeconomic sustainability as well as account for broader definitions of sustainability applicable to sovereign debt.

This event was co-sponsored by the Project on Public Finance and Human Rights.
Click here to read the Issues Note.

Public Bankruptcies and Private Law

June 15, 2022

The Institute of International Economic Law invites you to Public Bankruptcies and Private Law, a virtual conversation hosted by the International Insolvency Institute on June 15, 2022 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. EDT.

This virtual event marks the concluding session of events surrounding DebtCon5, the 5th Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference, hosted by the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy, organized jointly with Georgetown’s Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL), the Sovereign Debt Forum (SDF), and the Centre for Finance and Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva

See below the papers that will be discussed in the academic session of the event:

IMF Policy Paper: Reviews of the Fund's Sovereign Arrears Policies and Perimeter

May 26, 2022

When IMF member governments that miss debt payments to their creditors seek financing from the Fund, its sovereign arrears policies govern the conditions under which it can lend. The IMF reviews its policies periodically to reflect changing circumstances and learn from experience. Sovereign borrowers in 2022 must contend with a more complex creditor landscape, and new information and coordination challenges. The recently completed policy review informs the latest changes to the IMF’s sovereign arrears policies, designed to help members address creditor coordination and transparency concerns.

An expert panel discussed the findings of the IMF policy review against the background of rising public and private debt stocks, and acute sovereign debt vulnerabilities in a growing number of countries around the world.

Debt and Fiscal Challenges in Latin America

May 13, 2022

Watch Mauricio Cárdenas, Andrés Velasco, and Marc Hofstetter discuss Debt and Fiscal Challenges in Latin America in the first policy session of the webinar series that leads up to the 5th Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference (Florence, 25-26 May 2022). The policy session is followed by an academic session with paper presentations.


DebtCon Virtual Session: Debt and Covid-19 in Africa and Towards an African Financial Stability Mechanism

May 11, 2022

This virtual conversation is part 2 of a series of virtual events accompanying to the 5th Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference, DebtCon5, hosted by the European University Institute (EUI) from May 25 – 27, 2022 in Florence, Italy. IIEL, SDF, and the Centre for Finance and Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva are co-hosting DebtCon5 alongside EUI.


5th Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference

May 25-27, 2022

DEBTCON IS BACK! The European University Institute will be hosting the 5th edition of the Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference, on May 25-27, 2022 in Florence, (Italy). In addition to DebtCon5, three side events will be held online. – Further information will be announced in due time, so stay tuned!

2021 Update of the IMF Global Debt Database

December 15, 2021

The 2021 update of the IMF’s Global Debt Database documents the largest one-year debt surge after World War II. As countries were hit by the pandemic, global debt rose to $226 trillion, or 256 percent of GDP in 2020. Borrowing by governments accounted for slightly more than half of this increase, as global public debt jumped by 20 percent. The share of public debt in global debt reached new highs not seen in more than 50 years, reflecting a large cumulative increase since the global financial crisis. Private debt rose by 10 percent in 2020, partly reflecting the support of central banks and government. The rise in debt varied significantly across countries given very unequal capacity of governments and central banks to support households and businesses during the pandemic and a deep economic recession.

In a context of a still evolving pandemic, rising inflation, and record high public and private debt, the roundtable discussed how countries can manage the elevated debt.

Sovereign Domestic Debt Restructuring: Handle with Care (Webinar)

December 1, 2021

As emerging and developing economies accumulate more domestic sovereign debt, it is likely to play a larger role in the resolution of future sovereign debt crises. This paper analyzes when and how to restructure sovereign domestic debt in unsustainable debt cases while minimizing economic and financial disruptions. Key to determining whether or not domestic debt should be part of a sovereign restructuring is weighing the benefits of the lower debt burden against the fiscal and broader economic costs of achieving that debt relief. The fiscal costs may have to be incurred in the context of restructuring because of the need to maintain financial stability, to ensure the functioning of the central bank, or to replenish pension savings. A sovereign domestic debt restructuring should be designed to anticipate, minimize, and manage its impact on the domestic economy and financial system. Casting the net wide across claims can help boost participation in the restructuring by lowering the relief sought from each creditor group. A strategy that engages creditors constructively, and as transparently as possible, that relies on market-based incentives, and that presents the exchange as part of a consistent macroeconomic plan typically works best.

How China Lends: A Rare Look into 100 Debt Contracts with Foreign Governments

April 16, 2021

China is the world’s largest official creditor, but basic facts about the terms and conditions of its lending were—until recently—obscured. On March 31, 2021, the Center for Global Development, in collaboration with AidData at William & Mary, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Georgetown Law School, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, released a new working paper that sheds light on the contractual obligations associated with Chinese loans. Among other findings, this paper presents key discoveries related to the confidentiality, security, and policy influence provisions that accompany Chinese loans.

The Debt Burden:
How to Create a Sustainable Debt Management Framework. (Webinar)

March 29, 2021

The world is currently facing an unprecedented level of sovereign debt and debt is continuing to accrue during the pandemic. The state of sovereign borrowing was critical prior to the pandemic, with several countries facing limited fiscal space and increasing levels of debt, but the situation has deteriorated, tipping some economies over the edge. This seminar presents, the preliminary conclusions of a paper on good practices in sovereign borrowing. The main topics covered include:

  • The status and causes of the debt accumulation problem.
  • The importance of debt management as a preventative measure.
  • Initiatives implemented to address the causes and consequences of the debt problem.
  • How the lack of transparency has hindered accurate debt sustainability assessments and investment analyses.
  • Policy lessons critical to successful debt management.

And the presentation of an academic research paper: “The Debt Burden: How to Create a Better Debt Management Framework”

Legal Aspects of International Borrowing. (Research)

March 22-26, 2021

Forthcoming research from the World Bank, in collaboration with the Sovereign Debt Forum.

Good Practices in Sovereign Debt Borrowing. (Webinar)

February 22, 2021

The pandemic and the resulting collapse in economic activity significantly increased the risk of debt distress in many countries, especially the poorest ones. A number of initiatives, notably the G20 debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, were unveiled to avert instances where servicing existing debt would compound and constrain those countries’ response to the crisis. As many countries debt positions and long-term sustainability were being extensively scrutinized – and debt premia increased as a result – the importance of assessing the real need to incur new debts and to improve transparency in sovereign borrowing also increased. Recent debt scandals confirm that debts were some debts have been incurred wrongly or for inappropriate purposes.


Legal Training Program. (Virtual)

October 19-22, 2020

This legal training program is aimed at supporting capacity-building for debt managers on sound legal frameworks for a variety of debt obligations. External debt instruments enable countries to access wider sources of funding but require more comprehensive legal counsel as contracts are more complex. This program included topics such as: drafting and negotiating key provisions in commercial debt instruments, collateralized debt, guarantees and contingent liabilities, and debt restructuring. Members of the Sovereign Debt Forum developed this program to educate representatives from invited countries, including Cambodia, Benin, Guinea, and Liberia.

Distributed Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference. (Virtual)

September 7-18, 2020

Recognizing the need for creative, research-based solutions, a group of leading academic and policy institutions from around the world co-hosted the virtual Distributed Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference—D-DebtCon—in nine countries, spanning five continents, from September 7th through September 18th, 2020. Each day featured academic and policy panels across various locations including: South Africa, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, Singapore, the United States, Barbados, the United Kingdom, and China.

Collective Action Clauses:
Argentina, Ecuador, and Their Future. (Webinar)

September 1, 2020

In a major enhancement of the sovereign debt restructuring process, the G20 and International Monetary Fund endorsed collective action clauses developed by the International Capital Market Association in 2014. These included a ‘single limb’ clause which would potentially allow all creditors to be bound by a restructuring in a single vote. However, this clause was not used in the Argentinian and Ecuadorian restructurings.

Sovereign Debt Restructuring:
From the Brady Plan to Ecuador. (Webinar)

July 30, 2020

Virtual conversation with renowned debt restructuring expert Lee Buchheit and former Chief Economist for Latin American and the Caribbean at the World Bank, Augusto de la Torre on the evolution of sovereign debt restructurings, with a focus on Ecuador.

Does the global pandemic signal a paradigm shift in law and the economy? (Webinar)

June 12, 2020

Twenty eminent panelists, including Professor Rosa Lastra, contributed to this webinar, bringing perspectives from academia, industry, the banking sector, asset management, legal practice and the judiciary on key issues linked to economic and monetary policy, the future shape of financial markets, debt sustainability and preservation of financial stability, and the development of corporate governance norms to serve social growth and the green economy.

How to Manage the Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis?. (Webinar)

June 10, 2020

Sovereign Debt experts and policy officials from the IMF and the World Bank consider the rising tide of debt distress, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and review historical precedents, legal and policy options for managing the crisis in low- and middle-income economies.

Should Private Sector Debt Relief be Part of the Exit Strategy?. (Webinar)

May 19, 2020

In this “Rebuilding Macroeconomics” webinar on May 19, Rosa María Lastra and Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal along with Alexander Douglas, Katharina Pistor and Franklin Allen look ahead to when the economy stabilizes, and firms and households have higher debt burdens.

Born Out of Necessity:
A Debt Standstill for COVID-19. (Webinar)

May 7, 2020

In this webinar co-hosted by the London School of Economics (LSE) and the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Lee Buchheit, Mitu Gulati, and Ugo Panizza, along with Patrick Bolton, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, and Beatrice Weder di Mauro explain why low- and middle-income countries are particularly vulnerable to sovereign debt crises, discuss what is at stake for the world economy, and present a mechanism to implement a debt standstill which would free significant resources to cover some of the more immediate costs of the COVID-19 crisis.

Development & Debt In Lower-Income Economies. (Webinar)

February 10, 2020

Anna Gelpern (Professor at Georgetown Law) moderated a conversation with Kristalina Georgieva (Managing Director of the IMF) and David Malpass (President of the World Bank) on the debt situation in lower-income economies.


Sovereign Debt Forum Launch.

November 13, 2019

Queen Mary University of London has collaborated with the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown Law and Duke University School of Law to launch the Sovereign Debt Forum at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, on October 21, 2019. The Forum aims to assist low and middle-income countries with urgent sovereign debt policy problems.

Global Waves of Debt:
Causes and Consequences (Book Launch)

December 19, 2019

Featuring a conversation with David Malpass (Former President of the World Bank) and Kenneth Rogoff (Harvard University) as well as a panel discussion including Anna Gelpern (Georgetown Law).