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Expand chart
Adapted from Beers, et. al, 2019, "The BoC-BoE sovereign default database: What’s new in 2019?"; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The world's most comprehensive database of sovereign defaults, run by the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, has been updated for 2018, and once again advanced economies are driving the numbers.

Background: Countries defaulting on their debts have caused enormous problems for the international financial system since the Latin American debt crisis of the mid-1980s.

  • Until this decade, the world's developed countries always found themselves as the creditors, not the debtors. Greece changed that in 2012, when it became the biggest deadbeat sovereign of all time.

What's new: Greece defaulted on $111 billion owed to the EU. (The European Stability Mechanism allowed Greece to push back its debt service payments and reduce the interest rate it was paying, which counts as a debt default for the purposes of the database.)

  • The other big debtors in 2018: Venezuela with $64 billion of debt in default and Iraq with $41 billion.

The big picture: As countries struggle with growing debt burdens, sovereign debt problems will become increasingly common.

  • Argentina looks certain to default again; Venezuela has lost control of Citgo, its most valuable asset; even Portugal was added to the database in 2013 thanks to another EU restructuring.
  • Conceivably, even the U.S. could find itself in default if congressional gridlock prevented the debt ceiling from being raised.

Go deeper: The global debt binge begins anew

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to delete references to Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. commonwealth, not a sovereign country.

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

10 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucusColorado Governor and partner test positive.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday as crisis engulfs league, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.