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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deftly navigates the complexities of developing world debt
Developing world debt was high on the international agenda around the millenium, with the Jubilee Campaign enjoying some remarkable success. Much was promised. Several years later, Noreena Hertz explains, very little has happened, and the issue has slipped out of the public eye.

IOU is a useful overview of debt, of where it came from and how it came to be -...
Published on 6 Aug 2008 by Jeremy Williams

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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly written, derivative, Bono-loving crud
...well it's actually not THAT bad but someone had to balance the other eulogising comments from the hip young globalization-bashers (just like our Noreeena). This is not a well written book and there is not much new in it. It idolises Bono etc. in such a way as to make your eyes water and you feel a little bit of sick in your throat. Or maybe that's my indigestion again...
Published on 7 Mar 2007 by milfleurs


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deftly navigates the complexities of developing world debt, 6 Aug 2008
By 
Jeremy Williams (Luton) - See all my reviews
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Developing world debt was high on the international agenda around the millenium, with the Jubilee Campaign enjoying some remarkable success. Much was promised. Several years later, Noreena Hertz explains, very little has happened, and the issue has slipped out of the public eye.

IOU is a useful overview of debt, of where it came from and how it came to be - lending the absolute maximum to the developing world has been a very profitable strategy. The crippling debt may look like a terrible mistake now, but it was and remains entirely deliberate, with richer countries and banks aggressively touting loans, and reaping the rewards.

Hertz' account of the various chapters of lending, first governments, then banks flush with dollars from the 1970s oil crisis, and then the IMF, captures all the complexity of the issue without making it overly dense. She also unpacks the potential consequences of the debt problem, both for the developing world as it struggles to keep up payments, but also what happens in the developed world when a country defaults. Suffice to say that with commodity prices rising and debt becoming increasingly painful, the problem is getting worse, not better.

Fortunately, the last chapters deal with solutions, and there are some. The scale of international cooperation is daunting, but there are precedents and possibilities. All that's missing, like so many of these things, is the will to act.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debt Hertz, 10 Oct 2004
By 
Matt (Dundee United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is certainly no Moore-esque rant about the dark side of capitalism. Hertz exposes then ruthlessly demolishes the almost criminal system which has allowed so much debt to be accumulated. Her meticulous research and accessible prose make this an informative and understandable book on what is a complex economic subject. In her conclusion she goes the extra mile and, unlike many other commentators, comes off the fence to suggest radical solutions. Buy this book .Read this book. Then make sure everyone you know does likewise.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I.O.U. by Noreena Hertz, 19 Sep 2004
By 
J D Brett (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is an incredible book: candid, readable, true.
Noreena Hertz manages to convey the complex subject of Third World Debt with such effortless elegance that one is left wondering why the world's richest counties cannot see the wood for the trees.
Perhaps the real question though is why debt ever fell out of public consciousness. The book questions this along with the complex politics lurking behind the debt issue. And it makes the issue very, very current.
Whether your politics swing to the right or the left, I highly recommend this work. It is an accessible and compelling read - a mystery story based on fact, with a solution as brilliant as it is simple.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must buy this book, 19 Sep 2004
By A Customer
I thought a book about third world debt might be boring. I.O.U. is in no way that. At times really funny - Noreena Hertz's descriptions of ADD suffering traders with twitches and tics had me in stitches. As did as her Bono-Schwarzenegger-Kennedy-Reverand Billy Graham story. Often moving , the stories of the casualties of the debt crisis really touch. And often shocking, her story of what the World Bank said to the new Rwandan government after the Rwandan genocide, was extremely disturbing. Noreena Hertz's beautifully written book raises the issues around third world debt in an easily accessible way. She also, unlike many others critical of the current system, lays out a groundbreaking and actionable agenda for change. I.O.U. is a really important book of our times, that everyone should read.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly written, derivative, Bono-loving crud, 7 Mar 2007
...well it's actually not THAT bad but someone had to balance the other eulogising comments from the hip young globalization-bashers (just like our Noreeena). This is not a well written book and there is not much new in it. It idolises Bono etc. in such a way as to make your eyes water and you feel a little bit of sick in your throat. Or maybe that's my indigestion again. Gahh, the paper is bad too and the paragraphs go on and on with no end...

Anyway, this is a rather right on, trendy and 'hip' take on a serious topic that nevertheless does indeed deserve attention.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very sensible propositions, 20 Oct 2005
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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Noreena Hertz's basic principle is that the rights of creditors do not stand above fundamental human rights.
Debt repayments should not be imposed on governments when they could put in danger a minimum level of food, health care, clothing, water, education and housing for the entire population.
But as US president Calvin Coolidge said to the English delegation after WWI: 'We lent you money. Didn't we?'
The fact is that a lot of money was lent to corrupt and despotic regimes (Suharto, Marcos, Abacha, Ceaucescu, Mengistu, the South-African apartheid regime ...). More, after the end of the cold war, the US asked immediate debt repayment from States which were no longer strategically important.
Democratic governments should not be responsible for irresponsible lending by States or International Organizations.
She remarks that 60-70 % of all World bank projects under Mc Namara were failures and that only 10 % were ecologically and socially sound investments.
For her, debt should be forgiven if it was lent to undemocratic regimes, if the investments were against the interests of the majority of the population and when those who gave the money knew for what it was disbursed.
Ultimately, debt forgiveness will ot only favour the poor but also the rich countries, for it should not force nations to implement unsound policies and should improve security in the world.
By the way, she rightly lambastes massive arms investments (4 stealth bombers represent 1 schoolyear for 155 million children) and agricultural subsidies in the US and Europe (every cow receives 2,20 $ per day, or more that 1 billion human beings on our planet).
This book is a must read about a crucial problem for a massive part of the world population.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enlightening!, 22 Jun 2006
By 
Heather Ohly (St Agnes, UK) - See all my reviews
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This really is a must read for anyone who wants to be informed about global issues. Noreena Hertz does a great job of making an extremely complex subject understandable. She describes how the debt crisis began, how it has evolved and why it is now such a global concern - she does not pull any punches when it comes to allocating responsibility. She cleverly links third world debt to other major world concerns including global warming, malnutrition, disease and global security. A shocking and enlightening read.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blueprint for change, endorsed by rock stars, 26 Oct 2004
By 
Vincent Toolan (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Few exhortations to action manage to blend a detailed objective analysis of the facts; a practical, well thought-out agenda for change; and the true passion that comes of moral certainty. Dr Hertz's book somehow pulls it off.
Her central case is that developing country debt is the legacy of bad decisions - bad on the parts of the lenders, and of the borrowers. The consequences are awful at the human level, on a massive scale, just as Bono eloquently described at the Labour Party conference. IOU goes some way down the same path, successfully mixing the pure statistics of poverty with anecdotes of uneducated children, needlessly untreated HIV/AIDS sufferers, and women forced into prostitution. One of this book's strengths, however, is that it brings to the fore something far less obvious: namely, that the consequences of debt are malicious for the lenders in the rich world too. The debt quagmire entrenches much of the world's unrealised economic potential in a spiral of corruption, dampening demand for western goods and limiting investment, breeding ill-feeling towards lender nations, and ultimately contributing to the existence of failed states in which terrorists can thrive.
She goes on to explain exactly how to break the spiral, and anticipates and overcomes the practical objections. In a nutshell, she proposes applying strict criteria to debt relief, and an ingenious series of controls to ensure that money freed up benefits people rather than corrupt politicians.
Dr Hertz's breathless writing style conveys her passion for the subject rather well. Colloquialisms, run-on sentences, and a strange eye for the physical characteristics of her protagonists all give the sense of being on the receiving end of an intense face-to-face monologue rather than reading a dry book about development economics. Male characters "probably used to be good looking"; women are "hose clad". But the facts and figures to buttress the case are never far behind. If there is perhaps one area in which she stretches the case a little too far, it is in the impact of debt on the environment. The reader gets the sense that because both debt and climate change are important, there must somehow be a causal link. But this section does little do dilute the impact of the whole.
All in all, an engaging and important piece of work that deserves the plaudits. As Bob Geldof says: "everyone should read this book".
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IOU: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It
IOU: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It by Noreena Hertz (Paperback - 6 Sep 2004)
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