Group photo with Katharine Christopherson and Wolfgang Bergthaler from IWF

The International Monetary Fund’s Financing Role in Preventing and Resolving Sovereign Debt Crises

Ms. Katharine Christopherson and Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler held a guest lecture at the Deutsche Bundesbank University of Applied Sciences on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Financing Role in Preventing and Resolving Sovereign Debt Crises. Ms. Christopherson is Assistant General Counsel of the Country Unit of the IMF’s Legal Department which is the division within the IMF in charge of all legal aspects of country operations (189 members) and general policies of the Fund at Washington. Mr. Bergthaler is senior counsel and deputy at the same Department.

The half-day lecture for the Bundesbank students focused on the key legal aspects of the IMF’s financing of member countries, including the implications of sovereign debt restructurings in the IMF’s legal and policy frameworks. The IMF is an international financial institution at the center of the international monetary and financial system with near universal membership. Over the years, the IMF has played a key role in assisting IMF members in the prevention and resolution of financial and sovereign debt crises.

One of the IMF’s key functions is to provide financing to its member countries to assist them in resolving their balance of payments problems and restore them to medium term external viability. In this regard, one key consideration is debt sustainability, which in some cases, members may decide to restore by restructuring their sovereign debt.

At this occasion, the speakers presented the new book on Sovereign Debt, edited by S. Ali Abbas, Alex Pienkowski, and Kenneth Rogoff (published by Oxford University Press in 2019), in which Wolfgang Bergthaler contributes as author, along with other staff members of the IMF Legal Department.

The lively discussions benefited from both the broad theoretical background and the extensive practical experience that both speakers have gained in the context of various public debt crises in the past. Staff from the Financial Stability Department of the Central Office, which coordinates German membership of the IMF on behalf of the Deutsche Bundesbank, also participated in the course and contributed to a lively discussion.