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Who Owes Who?: 50 Questions About World Debt

By: D Millet and E Toussaint

256 pages, Figs, tabs

Zed Books

Paperback | Aug 2004 | #147376 | ISBN: 1842774271
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £11.99 $16/€14 approx

About this book

Using 50 questions and answers, this book explains in a simple but precise manner how and why the debt impasse for developing countries has been arrived at. Illustrated with figures, maps and tables, it details the roles of the various actors involved, the mesh in which indebted countries are caught, the possible scenarios for getting out of the impasse and the various alternatives to future indebtedness. It also sets out the various arguments - moral, political, economic, legal and environmental - on which the case for a wholesale cancellation of developing countries' external debt rests. It replies to the range of possible objections and proposes new ways of financing development at both local and international level.

'As this fine study demonstrates, lucidly and persuasively, the debt that is strangling much of the world is largely a "scam". In significant measure, it is an ideological fiction, devised in the service of wealth and power, with no legitimacy or moral force. With skill and precision, the authors unravel the layers of deceit and distortion that conceal the ugly reality, and provide an important tool for liberating the great mass of suffering people who are caught in these shackles. It is a very important achievement.' - Noam Chomsky


PART I. THE THIRD WORLD IN GLOBALIZATION; 1. What is the Third World?; 2. Are the conditions of the very poorest people improving?; 3. What are the different kinds of debt?; 4. What has been the impact of the foreign debt on human development?; PART II. THE ORIGINS OF THE DEBT OF THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES; 5. Who have been the leading promoters of developing country indebtedness?; 6. What is the geopolitical context in which super-indebtedness has taken place?; 7. Who have been the leading actors of indebtedness within developing countries?; PART III. THE DEBT CRISIS; 8. How can one explain the debt crisis?; 9. How has the external debt grown over the past; 30 years?; 10. How have the creditors organized themselves in the face of the debt crisis?; PART IV. THE MANAGEMENT OF THE DEBT CRISIS; 11. Who is the key actor in the management of the debt crisis?; 12. How does the IMF operate?; 13. How does the World Bank operate?; 14. What is the economic logic advocated by the IMF and World Bank?; 15. What are the short-term measures forced on countries by Structural Adjustment?; 16. What are the long-term measures forced on countries by Structural Adjustment?; 17. What is the role of the Paris Club?; 18. Have all developing countries been caught up in the same situation?; PART V. ANATOMY OF THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES' DEBT; 19. What does the external debt consist of?; 20. Who are the main creditors of particular groups of developing countries?; 21. How has the relative importance of the different creditors altered during the course of the past; 30 years?; 22. Are developing countries paying back their debts?; 23. How is financial instability related to the debt being managed?; PART VI. MOVES TO REDUCE THE DEBT BURDEN, AND THE STEPS NOW IN TRAIN; 24. How did the initiative to reduce the debt burden come about?; 25. What is the HIPC initiative?; 26. What have been its results in practice?; 27. What are its limitations?; 28. What is NEPAD - the new economic partnership for African development?; 29. What are vulture funds?; PART VII. DEBT CANCELLATIONS AND SERVICE PAYMENT SUSPENSIONS IN THE PAST; 30. Has there ever been a debt cancellation?; 31. Why do governments in the South continue to pay back the debt?; PART VII. THE CASE FOR CANCELLING THE DEBT BURDEN OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES; 32. Would debt cancellation be sufficient to ensure the development of developing countries?; 33. What are the moral arguments in favour of debt cancellation?; 34. The political arguments - what are they?; 35. The economic arguments - what are they?; 36. The legal arguments - what are they?; 37. The environmental arguments - what are they?; 38. The religious arguments - what are they?; 39. Who owes whom?; 40. Should debt cancellation be conditional?; PART IX. ISSUES AT STAKE IN DEBT CANCELLATION; 41. If creditors decided to cancel the debt, would it provoke a worldwide financial crisis?; 42. Would debt cancellation trigger an impoverishment of the North, notably for tax payers? (CHECK); 43. How would it be possible to find alternative

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Damien Millet is a mathematics teacher and secretary general of The Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt (CADTM). Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist, and president of CADTM. He is the author of several recent books in French on debt, development and globalization. Who Owes Who? is translated by Vicki Briault Manus.

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