World Debt Figures 2015

31 March 2015 by Eric Toussaint , Daniel Munevar , Pierre Gottiniaux , Antonio Sanabria

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The Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) has been working tirelessly since 1990 to demonstrate the relationship between debt and the incapacity of the world economic system to ensure even the most basic rights for hundreds of millions of people in the world.

In the 1990s, the CADTM called attention to the need to build fair relationships between Northern and Southern countries through the abolition of debt. In particular, it stressed the harmful affects on the development of Southern countries of the mechanisms of indebtedness used by the multilateral financial institutions (the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
and the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 180 members in 1997), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.
), the governments of the North via the Paris Club Paris Club This group of lender States was founded in 1956 and specializes in dealing with non-payment by developing countries.
, and the major international financial groups.

Even though the CADTM’s priority, as its name indicates, is the abolition of debt in the ‘Third World’ countries, its more general goal is to demonstrate, through its studies and activism, how the ‘debt system’ subjugates people in developing countries and in industrialised countries in the same way. As stated in the Political Charter of the CADTM international network:
Both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, debt is a mechanism used to transfer wealth created by workers and small producers to the benefit of capitalists. Debt is used by lenders as an instrument of political and economic domination.


Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc. See his bibliography: He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. Since the 4th April 2015 he is the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt.

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Daniel Munevar

is a 30-year-old post-Keynesian economist from Bogotá, Colombia. MPAff. LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. From March to July 2015 he worked as a close aide to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, advising him on issues of fiscal policy and debt sustainability. He was previously fiscal advisor to the Ministry of Finance of Colombia and special advisor on Foreign Direct Investment for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador. He is considered to be one of the foremost figures in the study of Latin American public debt. He is member of CADTM AYNA.

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Pierre Gottiniaux

CADTM Belgium

Other articles in english by Pierre Gottiniaux (13)


Antonio Sanabria

Other articles in english by Antonio Sanabria (9)

Other publications in english :

  • Bankocracy
    30 October 2015 - Eric Toussaint
  • Preliminary Report of the Truth Committee on Public Debt
    18 June 2015 - Truth Committee on the Greek Public Debt
  • Citizen Public Debt Audit - Experiences and methods
    5 March 2015 - Maria Lucia Fattorelli
  • Bank of the South. An Alternative to IMF-World Bank
    29 July 2014 - Eric Toussaint
  • The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man
    8 May 2014 - Eric Toussaint



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