NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Alexander Hamilton's Market Based Debt Reduction Plan

Peter M. Garber

NBER Working Paper No. 3597
Issued in January 1991
NBER Program(s):   ME   ITI   IFM

In 1790, Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, initiated a program to refund the U.S. debt. Debt that had sold at 75% discount two years earlier would be refunded at par into new funded debt of the new federal government. All foreign indebtedness would be repaid. I present evidence that Hamilton's actual refunding policy did not differ in nature from that envisioned under the recent Brady plan. I will show that the bond package for which the old debt exchanged had a market value well below par. Thus, a large part of the face value of the debt was effectively written off. I compare the Hamilton restructuring package to the recent Mexican restructuring package to find points of similarity to the Brady plan.

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Published: Garber, Peter M., 1991. "Alexander Hamilton's market-based debt reduction plan," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 79-104, January.

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