With Ukraine having lived in the backdrop of Russia for so many years, with one foot inside Europe and the other under the iron grip, debt has inevitably followed. As George Soros points out, Ukraine may very well deserve debt relief as they attempt to shake off the hands that have bound them and enjoy a more economically free existence. It is noted that the aggression Ukraine has endured at the hands of Russia has amounted to more than $19 billion in foreign debt. This debt is simply unsustainable, so the talks surrounding this very issue that are currently underway in San Francisco are well timed and necessary.
Soros warns, and rightly so, that the only true alternative to debt relief available to Ukraine is outright default. This would benefit none of the parties involved. Were that to happen, little to no investment would pour into Ukraine for the foreseeable future, which would be an extreme liability to a unified Europe. Furthermore, it would simply strengthen Russia’s revolve and grip over the region in the end.
Soros further notes that defaults entered into by any sovereign nation are almost always costly on an international scale. This is exacerbated when lenders wrangle over any available dollars, as they would be certain in the case of Ukraine. One only has to go back to the numerous defaults that occurred in Latin America some four decades ago, or continues to take place in Greece today. By following a policy of debt relief, however, Ukraine would be able to work with each individual lender to come up with a suitable solution to their financing woes. Even if a lender must settle for less than they are owed, it beats default in the end. Soros points out this can lead a country such as Ukraine to back in a solid financial within a couple of years.
The Greatest Investors: George Soros
George Soros | Open Society Foundations (OSF)
Ukraine is now fighting for a type of structural financial reform that is similar to the Brady Plan of 1989. Such a plan, Soros notes, will serve to stamp out corruption and begin to process towards a complete reformation of the judicial system. These steps would be necessary to push Ukraine in a forward direction and lessen Russia’s grip over it. The plan would also call for Ukraine to become less reliant on gas from Russia, and it would push the nation to integrate its economy to come more in line with the European Union. In the end, this will strengthen that agriculture industry within Ukraine, provide more regulated banking opportunities and services, and be great for the country in the long run.
As the chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC and the Open Society Foundations, Mr. George Soros is well qualified to speak on issues of national debt relief and default. Understanding the consequences of the latter helps the reader to understand the necessity of the former, and that is the basis of the recommendation made by George Soros.
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