Features

Five countries (besides Greece) that have stiffed the IMF

Hector Reid looks at the other countries to have stuck two fingers up at one of the world’s most respected financial institutions

150605-mugabe
Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe currently owes the IMF just under $80m

Last night, the Greek government invoked an obscure clause from the 1970s to get out of a €305m debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund.

Rather than pay up today, Athens has chosen to settle its debts for June €1.5bn in a lump sum at the end of the month.

The country is technically within its rights, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph. But "it is the first time that a developed country has ever missed a payment to the IMF since the creation of Bretton Woods institutions [of which the IMF is one] at the end of the Second World War."

That gives Greece the dubious honour of being the first developed country in over 70 years to miss an IMF payment.

But who else has stuck two fingers up at one of the world's most respected financial institutions?

Zambia

zambia-flag-200

It didn't end well. Struggling to service over $800m in debt arrears, and forced by the IMF to abandon subsidised food prices and devalue its currency, the country was wracked by urban riots and strikes in the middle of the decade.

Its funding agreement with the IMF fell apart in 1987.

Argentina

argentina-flag-200

Most famous of all was the crisis of the early 2000s, when South America's second-largest economy defaulted on around $100bn in external debt.

In 2003, it defaulted on a $2.9bn IMF payment though the IMF ultimately made some concessions and a debt restructure was agreed.

Zimbabwe

zimbabwe-flag-200

three countries currently in arrears to the IMF

$80m

Last September, the IMF sent Zimbabwe a stark ultimatum catch up with overdue payments or you're not getting any more money.

Sudan

sudan-flag-200

$975m

Sudan has been in arrears on its payments to IMF since 1984 (on debt going back to the 1970s), making it one of the IMF's oldest borrowers and in 1986 the country was declared ineligible to receive any more cash.

Cuba

cuba-flag-200

according to James M Boughton

But when Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, repayment of IMF loans taken out under the previous Batista government was repeatedly postponed and interest racked up until a full five years later, 1964, when Cuba decided to give up its IMF membership.

Was that it for Cuba's debt repayments? Not exactly.Castro's government went on to pay off the country's entire IMF debt including all interest charges.

Recommended

How long can the good times roll?
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom
Bitcoin

Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to home working, flexible employment practices and the rise of the “digital nomad”. One of the best …
21 Oct 2020
I wish I knew what negative interest rates were, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what negative interest rates were, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

There’s been a lot of talk from the Bank of England recently about introducing “negative interest rates”. So what on earth are they, and what would th…
20 Oct 2020
How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020

Most Popular

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020
Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom
Bitcoin

Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to home working, flexible employment practices and the rise of the “digital nomad”. One of the best …
21 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020