Skuldafrysting - Debt Moratorium - Er ţetta ekki okkar besta og réttlátasta leiđ til lausnar úr ánauđ.

DEBT MORATORIUM  (úrdráttur úr grein Websters Tarpey)

Here are some essential components of a program to defend the general welfare of Iceland:

Iceland should officially and formally declare a comprehensive, open-ended debt moratorium. This should involve the immediate, unilateral, and unconditional suspension of all payments of principal and interest to the Anglo-Dutch, until further notice. Any future payments can only be the result of international treaty measures negotiated by the self-styled creditors with the government of Iceland as a sovereign state and ratified by the Althing .or by referendum. The debt moratorium has routinely been declared by national states in regard to sovereign debts which they had officially contracted. In these cases, international negotiations regarding the suspension of debt moratorium have focused on debt rescheduling, interest rates, conditions of payment, and related issues. In the case of Iceland, however, the overarching question is that of the legitimacy and legality of the alleged Anglo-Dutch financial debt in the first place. The procedure of transforming private debts of Icelandic corporations into public obligations of the Icelandic government through the decree of foreign states which act as the favored clients of supernational institutions is prima facie illegal. In other words, it is extremely doubtful that Iceland owes the United Kingdom and the Netherlands anything at all.

If Iceland declares a debt moratorium, the country will simply be following the path of a large number of countries during recent decades. Here is a list, which makes no claim to being exhaustive, of some 27 countries which have, from the point of view of the international bankers, defaulted between 1980 and 2004 - more than one default per year, suggesting that, under conditions of globalization, debt default represents a normal and physiological process reflecting the deep flaws and contradictions of the emerging world globalized casino and hot money economy. It will be noted that this list includes large countries and small countries, European countries and Third World countries, countries with extensive oil and other natural resources and countries not so endowed, left-wing countries, right wing countries, Moslem countries, Catholic countries, secular states, democracies, dictatorships, and even one nuclear superpower, the Russian Federation. There is no conceivable opprobrium or moral taint in joining this long list. The list includes Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica. Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela. If one country defaults, we can focus on the incompetence of politicians and on the embezzlement carried out by individual Enrons or Madoffs. But when 27 countries default, we need to look at the defects of an entire world system and therefore at the remedies which sovereign states can employ in their quest for economic self-defense and for the exercise of their inherent right to economic development.

 Panitchpakdi told the meeting:. "In the current global crisis situation, both debtor and creditor countries would probably be better served if scarcer foreign exchange earnings in the debtor economies were used for the purchase of imports rather than for debt servicing," But debt moratoria need to be permanent until negotiated agreement is reached, so as to avoid the insufficiencies of the Hoover Moratorium of 1931-32 (declared by US President Herbert Hoover on post-World War I reparations and war debts). The Hoover Moratorium had real promise as an idea, but it proved too short-lived to stop the German and British defaults of 1931, and ended in chaos.

This is not the place to attempt even a cursory overview of recent debt moratorium measures enacted by the various nations of the world. Some of the largest and most important of these have been Mexico in 1982, Brazil in 1987, and Argentina in December 2001. Debt moratoria sometimes involve attempted measures of coercion in retaliation against the country in question by international lenders and international financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund. Countries exercising the sovereign right to debt moratorium have been sanctioned with lending freezes, exorbitant interest rates, and even the attempted overthrow their governments by means of subversion fomented from abroad. Government officials everywhere should by now be familiar with John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2004), which provides a typology of the methods used by international bankers. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the ability of nation states to harvest the beneficial effects of debt moratorium depends on the political skills of their leaders and the willingness of those leaders to mobilize mass support.

The most recent Argentine debt moratorium was declared in December 2001 during the short-lived administration of President Rodriguez Saa, in a time of grave political instability. It was therefore a real achievement that a democratic form of government was preserved. The Argentine debt moratorium was largely administered by the government of President Nestor Kirchner, who was able to negotiate a write-down of two thirds of Argentina's foreign debt by about 75%, meaning that the foreign debt existing at the beginning of the crisis was reduced by about one half. Argentina unquestionably faced serious domestic economic dislocations during the time that the debt moratorium was in force. However, it would appear that many of these could have been ameliorated and mitigated by the development of a more adequate social safety net, something which Iceland should be able to accomplish without excessive difficulty.

There is also always the possibility that a determined stand by a single country might precipitate the formation of an international movement of states or debtors' cartel in which economically disadvantaged states (the vast majority) would join together for a kind of collective bargaining to secure better conditions from the creditors, who already enjoy cartel arrangements of their own through the London Club and the Paris Club. We should also recall that the world is far less unipolar today than it was in 2001, thanks to the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and related tendencies. The difficulties experienced by the United States and the British in attempting to impose economic sanctions against what they define as recalcitrant nations suggest that countries invoking their right to debt moratorium would not today experience the same pariah status which some have undergone in the recent past.

In short, there is substantial reason to believe that a debt moratorium could be instrumental in obtaining significant improvements in the economic and political situation faced by Iceland. For any country of the modern world to recover from economic depression, it is always necessary to remove the burden of fictitious capital generated during the bubble, which generally assumes the form of speculative claims on income from agriculture and industry. On a world scale, this would take the form either of outright bans on derivatives and similar toxic instruments, or else of measures designed to neutralize the derivatives problem through taxation, as in the form of the Tobin tax. In the case of Iceland, the eradication of the overhang of fictitious capital necessitates the permanent freezing of interest and principal on the illegitimate Anglo Dutch debt with a view to its radical write- down or its outright elimination.

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