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a postponement of obligations established by a government for a fixed period or until the end of certain forces majeures, for example, during war or natural disaster. A general moratorium applies to all obligations; other types pertain to only certain varieties of obligation or to certain categories of debtors.
In the USSR a moratorium may be established by a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR or of a Union republic. Soviet civil law considers a moratorium grounds for suspending the period of limitation on civil suits (Civil Code of the RSFSR, art. 85). A general moratorium has never been declared in the USSR; during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, a moratorium was declared on certain obligations only.
In capitalist countries, the government resorts to moratoriums during periods of economic crisis. As a rule, such moratoriums apply to bank transactions on foreign loans. A special form of moratorium is the bank moratorium, which closes credit institutions for a certain time by order of the government. Use of the moratorium is characteristic of the present-day currency and financial crisis. For example, the devaluation of the American dollar in 1971–73 led to numerous closings of the major currency exchanges in Western Europe and Japan.