Hours after Pope Francis on Easter Sunday morning said the debt burden on the most impoverished countries should be forgiven (aka debt jubilee), the Financial Times is now reporting that the G20 group is nearing a critical “action plan” to freeze debt servicing payments for poor countries to stave off an emerging-market meltdown.
The new relief program could be finalized on April 15 on a videoconference of finance ministers and central bank governors. The plan would “freeze on sovereign debt repayments for six or nine months, or possibly through to 2021,” the official told the Times.
The official said developed countries and multilateral institutions would use this period to write up “very clear criteria, country-by-country of what exactly is going to happen. Is it debt relief totally? Is it just a deferment, a rescheduling?”
“For debt relief to happen, it would take time for it to be co-ordinated,” the official said.
“But what is immediately needed is to give these people space so they don’t need to worry about the cash flow and debt servicing going to other countries, and they can use that money for their immediate needs,” the official said, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the discussions.
Last week, the British-based Jubilee Debt Campaign called for a worldwide debt jubilee to avoid some of the world’s poorest countries from collapsing into chaos amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “The suspension on debt payments called for by the IMF and World Bank saves money now, but kicks the can down the road and avoids actually dealing with the problem of spiraling debts.”
Clifton is urging for the immediate cancellation of 69 of the world’s poorest countries’ debt payments this year, which would free up at least $25 billion for the countries in 2020, and up to $50 billion if the jubilee was extended to the end of 2021.
“This is the fastest way to keep money in countries to use in responding to Covid-19, and to ensure public money is not wasted bailing out the profits of rich private speculators,” added Clifton.
Much of the debt crisis concern is situated around the poorest countries that line China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The official said there is “very clear recognition that a global co-ordinated approach is a must” to avoid an emerging market debt crisis.
Odile Renaud Basso, chair of the Paris Club, a group of the 22 largest creditor nations, told the Times that all creditor nations and China should work closely with G20 negotiations to resolve emerging market woes.
“There must be a level playing field so that all creditors agree to the same key parameters,” she said. “But with that in place there is always a need for bilateral discussions between each creditor and debtor nation, and China could work within that framework. They are very much involved and I think they will be part of an agreement.”
The IIF has also been vocal in calls “to forbear payment default for the poorest and most vulnerable countries significantly affected by Covid-19 and related economic turbulence for a specified time period, without waiving the payment obligation”.
The official also said that governments would not make it mandatory for private creditors to offer relief programs for the poorest countries.
“You cannot force individual investors to waive their rights. That could distort the markets, and could have the negative consequences of liquidity problems. They would not lend if they see any sign that they can be forced to let go of their assets.”
And it appears the world is at the end of a decade’s long monetary experiment, where ushering in more quantitative easing to fix below-trend growth or instabilities in the financial casino will not work this time.
Daniel Lacalle, CIO at fund manager Tressis Gestión, recently said: “QE will not fix this. Swap lines will not fix this. A debt jubilee would fix this or multiple trillions of dollars in write-downs and defaults.”
Internet search term for “debt jubilee” has surged to the highest level not seen since late 2012.
Increasing calls for a debt jubilee suggests the 100-year debt-super cycle’s “kick the can down the road” plan may have finally hit a wall.
» Source » By Tyler Durden