Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Pleading for Human Rights, the Rule of Law, and Economic Sense

Kunibert Raffer

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Reviewing and commenting on Lienau's book Rethinking Sovereign Debt, Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy, this paper agrees with most of her points, aiming at supporting and complementing rather than contradicting her line of argument. It wants to corroborate her points as well as to bring up aspects that the book does not discuss. It presents two main comments on the more civilized treatment of sovereign debtors before WWII, and on the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions after 1945 that - as Lienau correctly notes changed the positon of debtors fundamentally. The paper shows that going further back into history than the book did, namely sovereign debts in the nineteenth century, strongly corroborates Lienau's line of argument regarding the period before WWII. The paper complements the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions with further facts, arguing that their strongly statist view is also self-serving and helpful to support multilateral lending practices violating these institutions' statutes. Finally, the new tendency back to a non-statist regime she rightly observes is commented on, pointing out that present debt management in the eurozone constitutes a considerable backlash.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-262
Number of pages20
JournalAccounting, Economics, and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 502046 Economic policy
  • 502003 Foreign trade
  • 502010 Public finance


  • CMI
  • VWL
  • insolvency
  • sovereign debt restructuring
  • international finance
  • Sovereign debt restructuring
  • Insolvency
  • International finance

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