Cover: Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance, from Harvard University PressCover: Rethinking Sovereign Debt in HARDCOVER

Rethinking Sovereign Debt

Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance

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Product Details


$57.00 • £45.95 • €51.50

ISBN 9780674725065

Publication Date: 02/18/2014


344 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 tables


An excellent window into the usually unquestioned norms that govern the sovereign debt regime.—Lauren M. Phillips, LSE Review of Books

Odette Lienau’s Rethinking Sovereign Debt is the most important book on sovereign borrowing in decades. Lienau brilliantly explains the historical origins of contemporary practices of government finance, and in doing so demonstrates the contingency of the understandings of market participants. Lienau asks the fundamental question: Who—exactly—is the sovereign that borrows on behalf of the nation? The answer, Lienau shows, must be central to how scholars, policy makers, and lenders make sense of sovereign finance, for they must know how regimes claim the legitimacy to oblige their citizens to repay the debts accumulated in their name. This extraordinary book should be widely read by scholars and practitioners.—Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School

In Rethinking Sovereign Debt, Odette Lienau probes two of the most enduring questions of sovereign finance: why do governments pay the debts they inherit from prior regimes even when those predecessors may be openly acknowledged as feckless, corrupt, incompetent, or outright tyrannical; and ought this to be—as it is now—a strict commandment of international law? The answers, as Lienau shows in this penetrating new book, must be sought in history, finance, political philosophy, law, morality, and plain common sense.—Lee C. Buchheit, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

An original work of international legal theory as well as a gripping tale of the geopolitics and political economy of post–World War I international finance. Especially illuminating is Lienau’s discussion of concepts of state sovereignty in early modern political philosophy and their connection to views about the juridical agency of the state in public international law.—Robert Howse, New York University School of Law

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