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Moratorium

A legal permission to defer for a stated time the payment of a bond, debt, cheque, or other obligation. This is done to enable the creditor to pull himself round by borrowing money, selling effects, or otherwise raising funds to satisfy obligations. The device was adopted in 1891 in the Argentine Republics during the money panic caused by the Baring Brothers' “difficulty,” a default of some twenty millions sterling.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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