"to restructure your debt is to declare yourself similar to …"
May 19, 2013 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress
Lee Buchheit, a lawyer at US firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been present at all the major debt crises of the past three decades. His reputation among investors is as a fearsome and aggressive litigator, but finance ministers in distress see him as something of a fairy godmother.
He insists he does not make a moral judgement in choosing who he acts for, but rather enjoys working for the debtor nations. "It's just more fun," he says. "If you represent the lender, your client is tiresomely saying things to you like, 'Why don't they just pay us the money back?' When you're on the debtor side, you can say, 'If you want to get it back, why did you give it to us?'"
posted by the man of twists and turns (5 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Instead of repeated bailouts and a lost decade of austerity in Southern Europe, countries should at least soften the blow by cutting a deal directly with their creditors to reduce their debt loads.

The shoe fits.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:04 PM on May 19, 2013

Buchheit gave a guest lecture in one of my law school classes. It was funny, erudite, and deeply informative. And his scholarship on sovereign debt is shockingly readable, by academic standards. Not your typical lawyer, by a long stretch.
posted by grimmelm at 9:51 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

"In summer 2011 Buchheit finally got the call and helped thrash out a deal to slice 90% off the country's crippling debt pile, with reference to a clause he has traced back to a British railroad bond contract of 1879."

How the hell does that work? Didn't stephenson or Brunel own the railways back then? Seriously, wtf?
posted by marienbad at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2013

>When you're on the debtor side, you can say, 'If you want to get it back, why did you give it to us?'"

How about lending your renowned talents to the indentured victims of US educational usury industry then?
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:23 AM on May 20, 2013

Yet then you have other classes of vulture who buy up distressed debt from other nations and then sue sue sue sue in US court to be repaid in full. Which I swear was covered here on the blue, but maybe I'm searching on the wrong keywords.
posted by k5.user at 11:58 AM on May 20, 2013

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