Financial History

Defaults, Near-Defaults, and Other Financial Disasters


1800-1815

Napoleonic wars. Austria, France, Russia, the German states all default under the cost of financing armies.

1826

Greece defaults for the first of five times. Its first king, Otto, spends his rule fruitlessly trying to stabilize finances.

1932

Germany, devastated by hyperinflation, war reparations, and Depression, repudiates debt owed U.S. investors.

1973-1989

Sixteen Latin American countries default on tens of billions of dollars, owed mostly to U.S. banks. Citibank almost goes under.

1994

Mexico suddenly devalues the peso, which had been under mounting pressure. The peso's crash triggers a crisis that requires intervention form the U.S. Treasury.

1997-1998

Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea prove unable to repay dollar-denominated debt as their currencies collapse. IMF boss Michel Camdessus imposes draconian budget cuts in return for aid.

2001-2002

Argentina, beset by budget woes, partly defaults on its foreign debt and abandons the peg to the dollar. Bondholders have still not settled.

2009-2010

Greece, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary all face a sovereign debt crisis.


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