65 prominent global leaders and public figures urge New York to pass groundbreaking bill addressing debt crisis

A coalition of 65 former heads of state and government, CEOs, artists, business leaders, climate advocates and policymakers have called upon Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature to pass a groundbreaking bill, the Sovereign Debt Stability Act, which aims to significantly lower the economic strain on low- and middle-income countries burdened by unsustainable debt levels.

Organized by Oxfam, a global organization fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice, the open letter demonstrates the substantial international support for the bill and the attention on New York’s legislature from every corner of the globe. The diverse group of signers includes 21 former heads of state and Members of Club de Madrid, including Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, Malawian President Joyce Banda, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Numerous influential New Yorkers joined as signatories including NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, artist and activist Mark Ruffalo and Nobel Prize winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Because the sovereign debt and climate crises are so deeply intertwined, the letter also garnered support from several significant climate leaders including Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and 350.org founder Bill McKibben.

The proposed legislation would make it more efficient for indebted nations to restructure loans governed under New York laws, and ensure that predatory creditors – also known as ‘vulture funds’ – can no longer abuse the New York court system and take advantage of taxpayers. This change could help poor countries stabilize their economies and make crucial investments that reduce inequality. By passing this bill, New York’s leaders have the chance to ensure New York remains the most important market for sovereign bonds, create a model for other jurisdictions and deliver justice on a global scale.

Morris Pearl, Chairperson of Patriotic Millionaires and former Managing Director of BlackRock, said:

“Sovereign debt is suffocating millions of desperate people in low-income countries around the world. Lawmakers in these countries oftentimes are forced to devote more of their budgets to repaying wealthy New York financiers like me than they do on meeting their citizens’ basic needs. The Sovereign Debt Stability Act will allow struggling nations to rely on New York courts to enforce a debt restructuring plan that most creditors agree to, as opposed to the current situation that permits a few short-sighted creditors to buy debt, inflexibly insist on full repayment, and destabilize nations in the process. This act will ensure that Wall Street investors who, like me, have benefited immensely from the global financial system play our part in supporting fair global economic practices.”

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