The Developing Country Debt Crisis by David F. Lomax (auth.)

By David F. Lomax (auth.)

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By 1976 and 1977 Dr Witteveen was becoming more concerned with some of the problems that might be faced and in the May 1976 IMF Survey he said: 24 The Developing Country Debt Crisis The question remains, however, whether the participation by the banking system in balance of payments financing has been excessive either in general or in specific instances. This concern is especially relevant because, in contrast to the traditional banking activities of trade and project financing, balance of payments loans inevitably involve judgments that go beyond strictly commercial considerations into the field of national financial and economic policies.

The aim therefore was to recycle the surplus so that other countries could borrow to cover their balance of payments deficits and to maintain their expansionary policies. At that stage little thought was given to problems which might stem from the debt being created and to the implications for other areas of policy. An examination of the speeches made by prominent spokesmen at the time indicates that concern was devoted almost entirely to the question of where the money would come from, and who would lend it, rather than to whether the creation of this debt was in itself in any way unsound.

OECD REACTION As the term 'oil shock' implies, the oil price rises of 1973-4 were a major dislocation in the course of the world economy. How the OECD countries reacted to them would set the pattern of events for many years to come. In the event they reacted by adopting three concepts, which were intended to achieve as favourable an outcome as possible while accommodating OPEC's main gains. The first of these concepts was that the OECD countries should by and large accept the higher price of oil and not attempt to break the OPEC cartel.

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