By now the origins of the debt crisis—too much borrowing by Third World countries and too much lending by banks and industrialized nations—are reasonably well understood. What has only just begun is a flood of scholarly articles and muckraking journalism about the collusion between various parties pursuing narrow profits rather than the wider public interest.
It is perhaps both natural and understandable that most of these analyses and commentaries are focusing on the complexity of the problem and offering complicated cures. After all, the number and variety of countries in debt is large and growing. Similarly, the number of public, private, bilateral, and multilateral institutions involved in the crisis constitutes a mind-boggling alphabet soup. The jargon too is forbidding. There is financing and refinancing, scheduling and rescheduling, Special Drawing Rights and Structural Adjustment, to mention only what every newspaper reader has to struggle through. And there is the umbrella term conditionality, which, of course, is difficult to understand in the intricate detail of its application, implementation, and implication.