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What Greece Can Learn From Argentina's Default

A legal odyssey, and a lesson for Greece
Griesa’s rulings have made him a minor celebrity in Buenos Aires
Griesa’s rulings have made him a minor celebrity in Buenos AiresPhotograph by John Loomis for Bloomberg Businessweek

“Argentina is going to make this month’s bond payment without any obstacle,” Economy Minister Hernán Lorenzino assured reporters on his 40th birthday—on March 5—in Buenos Aires. He was shrugging off a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in favor of creditors who have been challenging Argentina’s debt restructuring in New York.

Lorenzino was still in his 20s when the country defaulted on a then-record $95 billion in debt in December 2001, an event that in some ways parallels the recent Greek melodrama. South America’s second-biggest economy hasn’t sold bonds overseas since. It has, however, kept law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton busy fending off attempts by funds run by billionaire investors Kenneth Dart and Paul Singer to seek compensation. And Griesa, 81, has made so many rulings on the dispute that he’s become a minor celebrity in Buenos Aires newspapers.