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The Debt System
A History of Sovereign Debts and their Repudiation

This compelling, provocative, and accessible volume offers a rejoinder to the prevailing wisdom that views debt as holy writ.

For as long as there have been rich nations and poor nations, debt has been a powerful force for maintaining the unequal relations between them. Treated as sacrosanct, immutable, and eternally binding, it has become the yoke of choice for imperial powers in the post-colonial world to enforce their subservience over the global south. In this ground-breaking history, renowned economist Éric Toussaint argues for a radical reversal of this balance of accounts through the repudiation of sovereign debt.

Éric Toussaint, Senior Lecturer at the University of Liège, is President of Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debts, Belgium. He is the co-author of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank, Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers.

Reviews
  • "Since 2008 CADTM has campaigned for “a new doctrine of illegitimate, illegal, odious, and unsustainable debt” cancellation. This doctrine includes considerations of whether the debtor state is democratic, whether it respects human rights, whether the debt is incurred within the framework of “structural adjustments” (enforced austerity), and includes all debts incurred to pay back previous odious debts. On grounds of global social justice, The Debt System makes a strong case for this new doctrine." Against the Current

    "This work has much to commend it; it provides detailed analyses of the impact of indebtedness in several nations and a compelling explanation of the deep-seated mechanisms at work in the international credit system – a system which is designed to enhance the opportunity for exploitation of nations outside powerful capitalist sates. The author shows that, contrary to orthodox arguments, debt repudiation can be both justified and successfully carried out. I recommend the book wholeheartedly." Counterfire

Other books by Éric Toussaint

  • A Glance in the Rear View Mirror

    An introductory guide to the neo-liberal ideology of the global 1%. Perfect for those of us without economics degrees.
  • Your Money or Your Life

    Globalization brings growth? Think again. Debt--engineered by the IMF and World Bank--sucks countries dry.

Other books of interest

  • BRICS

    Edited by Patrick Bond and Ana Garcia
    A critical examination of the contradictory rise to power of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • Extracting Profit

    A piercing historical explanation for poverty and inequality in African societies today, and social impact of resource-driven growth.
  • Into the Tempest

    These ten essays provide a comprehensive introduction and overview of the theory of global capitalism and its application to a wide range of contemporary issues that will be accessible to activists and the general public yet also satisfying for scholars.

  • Crisis, Movement, Strategy

    Edited by Panagiotis Sotiris

    This edited volume grapples with the theoretical, analytical, and strategic questions posed by the recent experience of the radical left in Greece.

  • Can't Pay, Won't Pay

    A Powerful Guide to Action for People in Debt.