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Alexander Hamilton's Market Based Debt Reduction Plan

Peter Garber

No 3597, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: In 1790, Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, initiated a program to refund the U.S. debt. Debt that had sold at 75% discount two years earlier would be refunded at par into new funded debt of the new federal government. All foreign indebtedness would be repaid. I present evidence that Hamilton's actual refunding policy did not differ in nature from that envisioned under the recent Brady plan. I will show that the bond package for which the old debt exchanged had a market value well below par. Thus, a large part of the face value of the debt was effectively written off. I compare the Hamilton restructuring package to the recent Mexican restructuring package to find points of similarity to the Brady plan.

Date: 1991-01
Note: ME ITI IFM
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Published as Garber, Peter M., 1991. "Alexander Hamilton's market-based debt reduction plan," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 79-104, January.

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