The US Supreme Court denied Argentina's appeal for a hearing today, leaving intact a lower court ruling that validates predatory behavior targeted towards countries in financial distress. The high court also denied a related appeal on behalf of the more than 92% of bond holders who had accepted Argentina's restructuring deal. In a final blow, the court also decided that hedge funds can access information on where Argentina holds financial assets around the world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), legitimate Wall Street investors and the US government had sided with Argentina because of the case's impact on debt restructuring, poor country access to credit and global financial stability.
"I am absolutely shocked by the decision," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization, Jubilee USA Network. "For heavily indebted countries supporting poor people, this is a devastating blow. These hedge funds are equipped with an instrument that forces struggling economies into submission."
The case dates back to 2001 when Argentina defaulted on its debts and a group of predatory hedge funds purchased some debt for pennies on the dollar. The hedge fund NML Capital leads a group of hold-out creditors in suing the country for more than $1 billion. The case will set a precedent that will impact the functioning of the global financial system. The court did not exercise the expected option of asking the United States government to issue an opinion in the matter. In a related Supreme Court case and in lower courts the US government consistently argued that hold-out creditors should take the same deal that was agreed to by nearly 93 percent of bondholders. The US Treasury and the White House continue to express support for Argentina because of the case's impacts on US bipartisan debt relief policy, global debt restructuring and impacts on poor people.
"For 15 years, Republicans and Democrats have agreed that the world's poorest countries need to have their debt burdens reduced," noted LeCompte. "Today, that bipartisan policy is threatened by the court's decision."
Numerous global institutions and organizations have weighed in on behalf of Argentina. In March, citing the impact of the case on debt relief policy and the global poor, Jubilee USA filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of 79 religious and development institutions urging the high court to take the case. France, Brazil and Mexico also filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of Argentina before the Supreme Court. The World Bank, Wall Street investors and the IMF have all expressed concern regarding the possibility of a win by the predatory hedge funds. The IMF recently reaffirmed support for Argentina, declaring itself "deeply concerned" about the potential impact the case could have on the ability of countries to restructure their debts, which in turn allows the global financial system to operate.
"There's a rare consensus that the court's decision today is harmful," added LeCompte. "The religious community is saddened that these extreme actors will now broaden their efforts to collect assets that belong to the poor. Given the ruling, we need to see what legislative remedies we can implement to stop these hedge funds."
Read a history and timeline of the case: http://www.jubileeusa.org/truth-about-debt/vulturefunds/argentina.html
Read Jubilee's USA's filing urging the Supreme Court to take the case: http://jubileeusa.org/fileadmin/13-990__-991_Amici_Brief_filed_3-24-14.pdf
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 400 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes 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