Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fighting off the Vultures

The African Development Bank has launched a legal support organisation designed to level the playing field for cash-strapped African states negotiating complex commercial transactions or facing litigation by vulture funds. Money quote:
The World Bank estimated in 2007 that 38 creditors had won $1bn (€712m, £605m) from lawsuits against countries in its debt relief programme, many of which are African nations. The claims of 10 creditors against Liberia - which was devastated by almost15 years of on-off civil war - amounted to $130m, or almost a fifth of annual gross domestic product.
It is hard to get too excited about vulture funds when they attack countries where the elite skim off the country's own wealth. But in a case like Liberia--where the government is making a good faith effort to improve the lives of its citizens--it's very hard not to view the vulture fund managers as anything other than legalized child killers. This is one of those occasions when you wish a group with the militancy of PETA or GreenPeace existed to fight on behalf of the world's poorest people.

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