The International Debt Crisis, 1979-1991. West, South, East: A Historical Reappraisal

Benedetto Zaccaria's picture
June 17, 2021 to June 18, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Business History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Economic History / Studies

This online international workshop originates from the research program “The Making of the Washington Consensus”, funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research. Originally scheduled to take place in Venice and Florence in March 2020 and now adapted for an online format, it aims at presenting and discussing a set of unpublished working papers and some essays that have been recently published in the Rivista italiana di storia internazionale, all dealing with the so-called “international debt crisis” of the 1980s. The conference papers are grouped in panels according to their relative focus on specific sets of actors, identified through the conventional 20th-century language of West, South, and East. Needless to say, as creditor-debtor interactions played out on a global scale, each of the three panels has more than one point of contact with the other two. At the end of the conference, we expect to have furthered our understanding of a major moment of change in the international political economy of the late 20th century.

Contact and registration:


17 June 2021

2:30 – 3:00 pm
Welcome address and Introduction
Duccio Basosi (Ca’ Foscari University Venice)
A lens on global transformations: The foreign debt crisis of the 1980s

3:15 – 4:15 pm
Panel 1: West
Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol (University of Glasgow)
Mattia Ravano (Graduate Institute, Geneva)
The G7 perspective on bipolar economic relations. A reappraisal of Western strategies
Benedetto Zaccaria (Ca’ Foscari University Venice)
Was there a Plan? The US and the Polish Debt crisis between Western solidarity and financial constraints
Fritz Bartel (Texas A&M University)
From Banks to Bonds: Euromoney Magazine and the Transformation of Global Finance in the 1980s

4:30 – 5:30
Panel 2: South
Corinna Unger (EUI)
Raphaël Orange-Leroy (CY Cergy Paris Université)
The Crisis of Development Aid and the Origins of the Debt Crisis
Verena Kröss (Jacobs University, Bremen)
The North-South Conflict in the World Bank: Understanding the Bank’s Turn to Structural Adjustment Lending
Max Trecker (Leibniz Institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe in Leipzig)
East-South Financial Relations in the 1980s: The View from East Berlin

18 June 2021

9:30 – 10:30
Panel 3: East
Kim Seung Woo (Graduate Institute, Geneva)
Pal Germuska (Hungarian National Archive)
Hungary and the debt crisis of the 1980s
Maximilian Graf (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences)
The East German “Debt Crisis”, the Soviet Union and the West
Aleksandra Komornička (University of Glasgow) Poland’s Debt Crisis: Between Western Creditors and Solidarność, 1980-1981

11.00 – 11.30
Closing keynote speech:
Federico Romero (EUI)
Credit Power

11.45 – 12.45
Final Roundtable & Discussion:
Johanna Bockman (George Mason University)
Mauro Campus (University of Florence)
Guia Migani (Université de Tours)
Vanni Pettinà (Colegio de México)
Massimiliano Trentin (University of Bologna)

Duccio Basosi (Ca’ Foscari University Venice)
Mauro Campus (University of Florence)
Massimiliano Trentin (University of Bologna)
Benedetto Zaccaria (Ca’ Foscari University Venice)
Francesco Saverio Leopardi (Ca’ Foscari University Venice)

All times are in Central European Time