October 09, 2008
Flaming Red Herring
Posted by Anna Gelpern

Iceland may ask for a loan from the IMF to go along with the $5 billion from Russia.  Until this bit of news, many folks I know were scratching their heads in wonder at why Russia and not the Fund.  Maybe it was false pride.  Maybe they thought Russia's friendship (see Ed Luce in the FT) was preferable to IMF conditionality.  Maybe in today's weird world, where raising money from foreign sovereigns is Wall Street Normal, a Russian loan looked like a market solution.

Today's New York Times feature on Iceland starts with the improbable "People go bankrupt all the time.  Companies do, too.  But countries?"  Actually, countries probably go bankrupt way more often than people on a per capita basis (if only because there are fewer countries and most live longer than people or companies).  Here are some examples.  Deep inside, a concession:  "Nations have gone bankrupt before, of course, but countries like Argentina -- not a country that thinks of itself as closer to Europe than the developing world."  Actually, Argentina often thinks of itself as Italy.  And Russia is in the G-8.  And the U.K. is nationalizing banks.  Anyway, it goes to show that we are all emerging markets now.  Submerging, actually.

Finance, Globalization/Trade | Bookmark

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