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Supreme Court Justices Consider Hearing Argentina Hedge Fund Debt Case

by Erin Kelso Thursday, Jun. 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM
outreach@jubileeusa.org

US Supreme Court justices will decide next steps in the Argentina vs NML Capital debt case today. 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. Supreme Court justices will decide to formally hear the case or ask the US Justice Department to issue an opinion.

US Supreme Court justices will decide next steps in the Argentina vs NML Capital debt case today. 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. Supreme Court justices will decide to formally hear the case or ask the US Justice Department to issue an opinion.

"It's most likely that the justices will ask the opinion of the US Solicitor General," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA and a member of United Nations expert groups focusing on this case. "Asking the opinion of the US government is good news for Argentina as the Justice Department has continually stood on the side of Argentina in this case."

If the Supreme Court asks the opinion of the US government we may not know until the end of the year if the case will be heard. In a related "discovery" case before the Supreme Court, the US government has sided with Argentina. In lower courts the US government has consistently argued that the hold-out creditors should take the same deal that nearly 93 percent of bondholders agreed to. 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 poor country access to credit. In March, France, Brazil and Mexico all filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of Argentina before the Supreme Court. Jubilee USA also filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of 79 religious and development institutions urging the high court to take the case because of the impacts on world-wide extreme poverty.

In addition to Argentina's support from the religious community and the US government, the World Bank, legitimate investors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have all expressed their concern if the predatory hedge funds win. Last week, the IMF 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, allowing the global financial system to operate.

"The court's final decision will impact debt restructuring around the world and poor country access to credit," said LeCompte. "The stakes could not be higher."

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
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