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“Can you pay me before I die?”

Inside Argentina’s financial crisis | Why Lavagna was the only man for the job | The fall and rise of Argentina 

I could endure discussions with bankers, or with the IMF, or with professional investors. But what really hurt me was listening to the stories of retail investors, who in many cases had lost their life savings.

In 2002, I went to Japan to explain to retail investors there that we were working putting Argentina back together, and that we were forced to restructure our debt, including the bonds they held. What happened was incredible. Usually I hold investor meetings in hotels for small groups of market professionals that last about one hour at the most. In Tokyo, I had a meeting with 1,300 retail investors that lasted three hours, held in a theatre.

I made the presentation in Spanish, which was then translated into Japanese. The atmosphere was very tense from the outset and I knew from the first minute that this was going to be tough. The audience was made up of ordinary, mostly elderly, people.

I had made my presentation when an elderly Japanese lady stood up to ask me a question.

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