Argentina asks top US Court to stop 'catastrophe'

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Argentina filed a long-shot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday asking the justices in Washington to avert an "economic catastrophe" by overturning lower court rulings that could force the South American government to default on billions of dollars in debts.

Making Argentina pay cash in full to investors who didn't accept bond swaps in exchange for defaulted debt could destabilize the global economy by making other voluntary debt restructurings "substantially more difficult, if not impossible," the petition said.

"Full payment of the holdouts would cut Argentina's reserves approximately in half, an unimaginable result for any nation," Argentina's lawyers argued. "Any sovereign would protest if a foreign court issued an extraterritorial order threatening its creditors and citizens and coercing it into turning over billions of dollars from its immune reserves."

By ignoring the federal sovereign immunity law that normally protects other countries' assets from seizure outside the United States, the lower court decisions also could make U.S. assets overseas vulnerable to similar seizures by other governments, the petition said.

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