Odious Debts and Nation Building: When the Incubus Departs

We tend to ascribe all the problems of a nation to an “evil-doer,” – an oppressive regime, inadequate leadership, etc. – and there is an expectation, the “Beowulf Syndrome,” that all the problems of a nation will be solved once the “evil-doer” is overthrown. However, as the author states, “one souvenir of the former regime that may not be so easy to expunge-the debt obligations incurred by the prior government in the name of the state.” This article discusses the burden that debt, incurred by a dictator or oppressive regime, has on the citizenry of post-conflict states, and the subsequent challenges of nation-building.

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