Past Event

Frameworks for Sovereign Debt Restructuring

November 17, 2014
8:30 AM - 5:15 PM
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Faculty House


Quick Links: Overview Participants Background Materials - Program of Activities


Recent events--especially the difficulties faced by Argentina--have reminded us of the risks of not having orderly Frameworks for Sovereign Debt Restructuring. Its absence has led to the emergence of destabilizing speculative behavior in international debt markets and has delayed the resolution of sovereign debt crises. Delays in debt restructurings have been costly for sovereigns and for good-faith investors.

The potential adverse effects for global economic, political, and social stability that the lack of these frameworks implies make their design and implementation a matter of urgency–a claim that has been recently endorsed by a resolution of the United Nations.

The International Monetary Fund recognized the need for implementing these frameworks in 2001.

Over the past fifteen years discussions have explored many alternatives, and their economic, political, and social consequences.  Each has to be evaluated in terms of ex ante incentives –is there, in some sense too much or too little lending?  How is lending distributed across countries?  Is lending done on the right terms?  Do the lenders have the right incentives for due diligence?  And do the borrowers for prudent lending? –as well as ex post incentives:  when a problem occurs, are there incentives for a timely resolution, without undue delay?  Are there incentives for a fair and efficient resolution, one that enables the indebted country to return to growth quickly, which does not impose undue hardship on its citizens, and provides fair compensation to the creditors?

Some have suggested that simple modifications of the current contractual approach are all that is required.  Others claim that some sovereign debt restructuring mechanism would be desirable.

This conference will bring together academics and other experts, who will discuss these issues and will provide guidance on (a) what kinds of contractual reforms would facilitate a better working of sovereign debt markets?  (b) What are the limits of the private contractual approach? What are the benefits and limits of a statutory approach? Do contractual approaches help address the problems posed by these limitations? How might these be structured in order to promote a more efficient and equitable market for international debt?  Are there intermediate approaches, involving “soft law,” that might facilitate the functioning of sovereign debt markets?

More generally, the conference will provide insights on how the market-based approach can be complemented by a legal framework that replicates the functions of a national bankruptcy court.

Speakers include Jan Svejnar, Center on Global Economic Governance; Jose Antonio Ocampo, Columbia University; Patrick Bolton, Columbia University; Benu Schneider, United Nations; Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University; Lee Buchheit; Sean Hagan, IMF; Domenico Lombardi, CIGI; and many more.

By Invitation Only.

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Patrick Bolton
Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business
Columbia University Business School


Marilou Jane D. Uy
Sector Director, Africa Finance and Private Sector Development Department
The World Bank

Lee Buchheit
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton


Sergio Chodos

Martin Guzman
Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Graduate School of Business
Columbia University


Hugh Bredenkamp

Sean Hagan
Assistant General Council
Legal Dept.
International Monetary Fund


Richard Conn
Managing Partner
Innovative Partners LLC

Jim Haley
Senior Fellow


Timothy B. DeSieno
Bingham McCutchen LLP

Barry Herman
Visiting Senior Fellow, Graduate Program
International Affairs
The New School


Jonathan Eaton
Brown University

Jurgen Kaiser
Policy Coordinator


Brett House 
Sauvé Foundation

Domenico Lombardi
Global Economy Program


Robert Howse
New York University

José Antonio Ocampo
Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD)


Floyd Norris
New York Times

Kunibert Raffer
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
University of Vienna


Jeremiah Pam 

Benu Schneider
Research Fellow
Overseas Development Institute


Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota
Brazilian Ambassador to the United Nations
Brazilian Mission to the UN

Shari Spiegel
Senior Economic Affairs Officer


Eric Santor
Bank of Canada

Joseph Stiglitz
Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD)


Susan Schadler

Jan Svejnar
James T. Shotwell Professor of Global Political Economy; Director, Center on Global Economic Governance
School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University


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Background Materials

- Download all files (6.5mb .zip)

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Program of Activities


8:30-9:00am – Breakfast and Introduction to the Conference

Jan Svejnar, Columbia University


9:00-10:00am : Implications of recent events


  • - Implications of the Argentine Sovereign Debt restructuring and litigation for the international financial architecture
  • - The United Nations Resolution “Towards a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.”

Panelists: Lee Buchheit (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, New York); Sergio Chodos (IMF, Alternate Executive Director for Argentina); Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota (United Nations, DPR from Brazil)


  • - Current Debate on the Reform of the IMF Lending Framework

Panelists: Susan Schadler (CIGI); Hugh Bredenkamp (IMF)

Moderated by José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia University)


10:00-10:30am – Objectives and Challenges of Sovereign Debt Restructuring

Keynote Speaker: Joseph E. Stiglitz (Columbia University)


10:30-10:45am – Coffee break


10:45-12:45pm – The private contractual approach

  • - Issues in sovereign debt restructuring
  • - Can the private contractual approach provide an efficient and equitable solution to SDR?
  • - What is the optimal design of contracts?
    • - Collective Action Clauses. How do we weigh different classes of creditors? How do we determine priority with bonds issued under multiple jurisdictions?
    • - Champerty. Can it be included in bond contracts?
    • - Aggregation and Pari passu

  • - How can provisions of Chapter 9 be incorporated into contracts?
    • - What are the limitations of the private contractual approach?
    • - Lending into arrears
    • - Standstills in debt contracts
    • - Credit Default Swaps. Issues of transparency and disclosure

  • - Can provisions of Chapter 11 be embedded into contracts?
    • - Role for GDP indexed bonds

Panelists: Lee Buchheit (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, New York); Richard Conn (Conn International Group); Jonathan Eaton (Brown University); Eric Santor, Bank of Canada; Jim Haley (CIGI); Robert Howse (New York University); Joseph E. Stiglitz (Columbia University); Timothy B. DeSieno, (Bingham McCutchen LLP)

Moderated by Martin Guzman (Columbia University)


12:45-2:15pm – Lunch / Discussion on the Context of the Debate

(This Panel will not be open to the public)

    - The view of the IMF
    - The view of the UN
    - Should the recent decision be viewed as an aberration, and are there quick fixes?


Sean Hagan (IMF); Domenico Lombardi (CIGI); Benu Schneider (UN)

Moderated by Jan Svejnar (Columbia University)


2:15-2:30pm – Break


2:30-4:30pm – Proposals for a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring

  • - Provisions for an International Bankruptcy Law
  • - The reach of the soft law
  • - The institutional structure
  • - The institutional process to create it
  • - Improvements over the Paris Club ongoing process

Panelists: Patrick Bolton (Columbia University); Barry Herman (New School); Brett House (CIGI); Jurgen Kaiser ( NGO); José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia University); Kunibert Raffer (University of Vienna); Shari Spiegel (United Nations)

Moderated by Joseph E. Stiglitz (Columbia University)


4:30-4:40pm Coffee Break


4:40-5:10pm Conclusions – Towards a Consensus

Leaders: Jan Svejnar (Columbia University); Marilou Uy (G24, Director)

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Contact Information

Center on Global Economic Governance