Monday, August 11, 2014


Griesa is the name of the US federal judge who ordered that Argentina could not repay creditors who had accepted its restructuring until it fully paid those who had rejected it.  Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Guzman wrote an interesting article on Argentina's default and Griesa's decision.  They write at some point:
Argentina restructured its debt in two rounds of negotiations, in 2005 and 2010. More than 92% of creditors accepted the new deal, and received exchanged bonds and GDP-indexed bonds. It worked out well for both Argentina and those who accepted the restructuring. The economy soared, so the GDP-indexed bonds paid off handsomely.
But so-called vulture investors saw an opportunity to make even larger profits. The vultures were neither long-term investors in Argentina nor the optimists who believed that Washington Consensus policies would work. They were simply speculators who swooped in after the 2001 default and bought up bonds for a fraction of their face value from panicky investors. They then sued Argentina to obtain 100% of that value. 
NML Capital, a subsidiary of the hedge fund Elliot Management, headed by Paul Singer, spent $48 million on bonds in 2008; thanks to Griesa’s ruling, NML Capital should now receive $832 million – a return of more than 1,600%.
The figures are so high in part because the vultures seek to earn past interest, which, for some securities, includes a country-risk premium – the higher interest rate offered when they were issued to offset the larger perceived probability of default. Griesa found that this was reasonable. Economically, though, it makes no sense. When a country pays a risk premium on its debt, it means that default is a possibility. But if a court rules that a country always must repay the debt, there is no default risk to be compensated. 
...Its (America's) courts have been a travesty: As one observer pointed out,it was clear that Griesa never really fathomed the issue’s complexity.
The part that this piece, in my opinion, forgets is what did the local (Argentinian) government and elite did with the borrowed money.  Judging from what has happened in Greece,  I doubt that it was well spent and invested.  Most of it, I fear, must have lined ' ...the pockets of some (local) billionaires'.

The article can be found here.

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