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Economic Justice

IMF Plan Offers $170 Million in Debt Relief for Ebola-Impacted West Africa: IMF Debt Facility Can Aid World's Poorest Countries

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is providing $330 million of financing to aid Ebola-impacted countries.

President Obama Says Greece Needs "Growth Strategy," Criticizes Austerity

 

President Obama criticized Greek austerity programs in an interview that aired on CNN on Sunday. The United States President said: “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” Obama called on all sides to compromise and argued, "when you have an economy that is in a free fall there has to be a growth strategy and not simply the effort to squeeze more and more out of a population that is hurting." His comments follow French Finance Minister Michel Sapin's call for a "new contract" between Greece and Europe. The anti-austerity Syriza party won Greece's elections and is seeking to renegotiate Greek debt. Greece is the third-most indebted country in the world.

"Austerity simply doesn't work," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform organization Jubilee USA. "I think President Obama and French leaders understand there needs to be an alternative."

Mr. Sapin met Sunday with Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and said Europe should review austerity policies within the Eurozone. The French minister said Europe should also discuss Greece's debt situation and he and President Obama both called on Greece to make internal reforms. Greece began a series of austerity measures in 2010 as part of its emergency loan from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union. Since 2010, Greek unemployment doubled and the country lost 400,000 jobs in 2012. The Greek economy contracted every fiscal quarter for five years.

"Because of debt and austerity policies, Greece's economy and people are hurting," noted LeCompte. "There is growing consensus for rethinking these issues."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org 

 

 

United Nations Commission: Cancel Debt for Ebola Countries Report: West Africa Needs Debt Relief to Address Economic Challenges

 

 

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) released a report calling for debt cancellation for Ebola-impacted countries. The new report, "A Case for External Debt Cancellation for Ebola-Affected Countries," calls on multilateral institutions and governments to cancel Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea's debts. The report argues debt relief would provide necessary "breathing space" to address the region's economic challenges. All three countries are ranked in the bottom 15 in the United Nations' Human Development Index.

 "West Africa needs debt relief," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "Debt relief will not only fight Ebola, it will also provide a long-term investment in healthcare for the countries."

UNECA first called for debt relief in December. In November, the United States government called for $100 million in debt relief and took its plan to the G20. At the request of the G20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is currently considering a $300 million financing package that could include debt relief. In January, Guinea President Alpha Conde called for IMF debt relief. Guinea, where the outbreak began, spent more money on debt than on public health in the year before the epidemic began. All three countries have poverty rates above 50%.

"There is growing consensus for action," noted LeCompte, who serves on UN expert groups on debt. "Debt relief can provide additional financing the countries need."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

 

Greek Anti-Austerity Party Vows to Halt Austerity

The Syriza party won 149 seats in Greece's Parliament and formed a coalition government with the conservative Independent Greeks who won 13 seats. Syriza campaigned on promises to cease austerity measures and renegotiate some of Greece's debt.

"A third of all Greeks live below the poverty line and this was the reality they brought to the voting booths," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform group, Jubilee USA Network.

Syriza Party Poised to Win Greek Elections on Platform of Canceling Austerity and Renegotiating Debt

The anti-austerity Syriza party leads in polls heading into Greece's national elections Sunday. Syriza says if elected it will renegotiate some of Greece's debt and halt austerity policies. Syriza also calls for a European debt conference similar to the 1953 London Conference that relieved German debt and allowed the country to extend debt payments. The 1953 accord led to such incredible economic growth for post World War II Germany that the period is referred to as the "Wirtschaftswunder" or the "economic miracle." 

"It's interesting that Syriza calls for a debt conference," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "It certainly worked for Germany in 1953 and can be a model for heavily indebted countries today."

Greece is the third most heavily indebted country in the world and the most heavily indebted country in Europe. It owes more than $360 billion in total debt. Current polls give Syriza a 4 to 6 percentage point lead over current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy Party.

Lisa Kudrow sings about Smelly Kurt Nimmo

 

Haiti Marks Deadly Earthquake's Five-Year Anniversary; Mechanism That Cancelled Haitian Debt Could Help Ebola-Affected Countries

January 12 marks the five-year anniversary of Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The 7.0 quake killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 more and displaced 1.5 million Haitians. The earthquake also took an enormous toll on Haiti's economy. The year before the disaster, Haiti's economy grew 3.5 percent - the year after the quake, its growth was negative 5 percent. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

"Too many people died during the earthquake because they lived in unsafe conditions," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA. "This anniversary reminds us that poverty makes natural disasters even more deadly."

In the quake's aftermath, Jubilee USA called on the international community to cancel Haiti's debt. At the time, Haiti owed nearly $1 billion in external debt.

Argentina Debt Resolution Possible As Contract Clauses Expire; Concerns Continue Over Global Impacts of Debt Dispute

An Argentina bond contract clause expires on December 31 raising the possibility that hold-out hedge funds and Argentina could settle a long running debt dispute. After defaulting in 2001, Argentina restructured its debt with 92% of its bondholders and put in place the Rights Upon Future Offers or RUFO clause.

Countries Affected by Ebola Lose $1.4 Billion Annually to Debt, Corruption and Tax Evasion; Outflows Dwarf Money in Health Care

New reports show that the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone lose an average of $1.4 billion each year to corruption, debt payments and tax evasion. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) calculates the three countries lost about $1.3 billion per year to corruption and tax evasion in the decade leading up to the Ebola outbreak.

United Nations Votes for Process to Create Global Bankruptcy Framework

UN Process Could Limit Default and Stop Predatory Funds

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