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Accepted Paper:

Seeing the Sovereign like a Hedge Fund. The Construction of Emerging Countries Debts as aForeign Investment Niche  
Benjamin Lemoine (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Anticipation of Sovereign default have become an opportunity for private foereign investors to generate revenues through risk premiums or the possibility of legal proceedings. I propose a political sociology of Sovereign States as embedded in global financial and legal devices.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation, I will analyze how States are seen, observed and calculated through the prism of the foreign investment investor viewpoint that consider their failure and default positively, as some strategic portfolio opportunities. This proposal also takes the approach of studying the contribution of lawyers, alongside hedge fund portfolio managers, for whom the crises experienced by Sovereign States constitute a normal state of affairs and, above all, a source of structural profit, objectified in a portfolio of financial investments.

By mobilizing archival material tracing the genesis of the doctrine of limitation of sovereign immunity in the United States - which allows private funds to take legal action in the courts against foreign states - as well as interviews with investors, lawyers and bureaucrats who are at the source of this financial investment sub-sector, I analyze the construction of a specific foreign investment niche. I describe the role of bankers’ and creditors’ associations (the voices of the financial industry) in structuring and maintaining what is considered as the “general interest” of this emerging market. Finally, I discuss the public-private qualities of such investment configuration. These private actors could not exist without the support, direct and indirect, of technocracies, which themselves seize these private acts and evaluations as opportunities to perpetuate a moral and political “market order”. Caring about publicity, rule of law and justice for sovereigns or investors, private lawyers endorse, in their job, a specific definition of the “public good”.

Panel P031b
Imaginaries of foreign investment: friction and co-constitution of international financial flows and national borders [AnthEcon] II
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -