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The Unfolding Sovereign Debt Crisis

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, years of low interest rates provided a rare opportunity for many developing nations to borrow in international markets—whether issuing bonds in their own currencies, securing loans from private-sector banks and commodity traders, or borrowing from China, which emerged as a dominant official creditor. Developing countries’ overall external debt rose to a record level during this period. As central banks raise interest rates sharply to counter a global rise in inflation, many of these countries are at risk of default. The mix of public and private creditors and the opacity of many loan terms make it difficult to coordinate restructuring. The key factor may be domestic politics.