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New Left Review I/230, July-August 1998

Susan Strange

The New World of Debt

The debtors and how best to deal with them is surely one of the continuing but unresolved issues for the international financial system. [1] The following is an extract from Susan Strange’s book Mad Money, forthcoming from Manchester University Press. Here I will argue that the evolution of that system has changed the nature of the debt problem, but that neither governments nor markets are any nearer a final solution to the question of how to manage transnational debt than they were in the 1980s. Indeed, the evidence suggests that they may be even further away from a sustainable solution. If so, this is a conclusion that throws serious doubt on many optimistic incrementalist assumptions about the progressive improvement of ‘global governance’ through the increased role of international organizations—assumptions often cherished by some academics—and, of course, in bureau-cratic circles.

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