Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feel the Bern: Cuba’s Rum-for-Debt Offer to Czechs Isn’t as Weird as It Sounds

by Ben Bartenstein
Cuba’s offer to send rum to the Czech Republic to pay off Cold War-era borrowings may not be as preposterous as it seems, judging by some previous distressed-debt proposals.   Short on cash, officials in Havana have offered to send unspecified commodities and cases of the sugarcane-derived spirit to settle the debt, which a report by Agence France-Presse put at $270 million. The swap between the former Communist comrades -- Cuba and Czechoslovakia were among each other’s 10 largest trading partners in the 1980s -- is the latest in a series of proposals that have seen countries offer up everything from pasta to doctors to settle their borrowings........In 2010, North Korea sought to settle 5 percent of its $10 million in debt to the Czech Republic with ginseng, according to the Financial Times......Czech officials balked at the offer; they wanted zinc instead.......Russia offered a nuclear submarine and two MiG fighter jets to New Zealand in 1993 to pay $100 million it owed for imported dairy products, according to a book on the industry by Clive Lind titled “Till the Cows Came Home.”............To Read More....

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