sovereign debt

When Hedge Funds Trump Governments

vultureWhile Greece suffers to the point of revolution and suicide, hedge funds made out like bandits on Greek sovereign debt.

Greece had reached its target of buying back enough bonds at a discount to retire 21 billion euros, or about $27 billion, of its debt. The bigger winners, though, were hedge funds, which pocketed higher profits than many had expected, in yet another Greek bailout financed by European taxpayers.

To some experts, this latest chapter in the long-running Greek drama is another reminder of how private investors have managed to outmaneuver European officials at various stages of the debt crisis. And they caution that each time it happens, future debt workouts in the euro zone will become even more costly.

When Europe wanted to give the Greek bond holders a hair cut, the hedge funds threatened collective action against a host of European countries. They wouldn't buy any European sovereign bonds in retaliation against the Eurogroup taking a hard line against them.

The warning was blunt: If Athens set off legal mechanisms in the bond contracts known as collective action clauses, forcing bondholders to accept lower prices, investors would stop buying the bonds of struggling European countries. That would be bad news for Spain and Italy — to say nothing of Portugal and Ireland when they return to global bond markets in 2013.

European Sovereign Debt Crisis - How Did This Happen?

piigsWith Spain now getting a bail out all to pump up their insolvent banks, one might wonder how did we get here in the first place?

We actually are on the precipice, with a key critical Geek vote on whether or not they will default on their international bail out. Sitting on the edge of a cliff, a review of the European sovereign debt crisis and how we got here is at hand.

What the hell happened is complicated. Greece is not the same as Ireland, nor is Spain the same as Greece. Ireland's sovereign debt crisis was the direct result of their financial crisis. Greece, on the other hand, had long standing structural problems with their economy. Nor are their economies the same although treating them as such originally was part of the problem.

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Research Director Christopher Waller gave a presentation on the the European Debt Crisis. The entire May 8th, 2012 lecture is below. The focus is on debt to GDP ratios, the European Union and interest rates for sovereign bonds. We learn about the European Union's major financial structural problems versus how exactly the debt happened. There are plenty of specifics and this lecture is concise, accurate in it's scope. If you don't understand European Sovereign Debt fundamentals, watch this lecture in full and you will.

Greece Defaulted After All

greece parthenonMoody's has proclaimed Greece defaulted.

Moody's Investors Service says that it considers Greece (C/no outlook) to have defaulted per Moody's default definitions further to the conclusion of an exchange of EUR177 billion of Greece's debt that is governed by Greek law for bonds issued by the Greek government, GDP-linked securities, European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) notes. Foreign-law bonds are eligible for the same offer, and Moody's expects a similar debt exchange to proceed with these bondholders, as well as the holders of state-owned enterprise debt that has been guaranteed by the state, in the coming weeks. The respective securities will enter our default statistics at the tender expiration date, which is was Thursday 8 March for the Greek law bonds and is currently expected to be 23 March for foreign law bonds. Greece's government bond rating remains unchanged at C, the lowest rating on Moody's rating scale.

Moody's understands that 85.8% of debtholders holding Greek-law bonds issued by the sovereign have agreed to the exchange, with the vast majority of remaining bondholders likely to be drawn in following the exercise of Collective Action Clauses that will be inserted pursuant to a recent Act by the Greek parliament. The terms of the exchange entail a discount -- a loss to creditors -- of at least 70% on the net present value of existing debt.

Ripped Off MF Global Investors Will Never See That Money

armed robberyRob a 7-11 with a gun? Get at least 20 years in prison. Rip-off investors to the tune of $1.6 billion, get no jail time, no charges and you don't even need to make restitution. MF Global represents yet another example how financial crime goes unpunished and not penalized.

We know MF Global played around with customer's money. The amount they lost is even larger than originally estimated, now at $1.6 billion bucks. Seems there is $700 million overseas and that branch of MF Global in the U.K. ain't giving the money back.

Who in the World would trust Standard and Poor's?

Standard and Poor's finally did it.  They downgraded the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA+.  There are serious questions about the reliability of S&P.  The White House pointed out that there is a $2 trillion error in the calculations used for the downgrade.  Ths is of interest since the two other agencies failed to change the AAA status of the US. (See S&P downgrades U.S.)

Jack Tapper of ABC News reported late this afternoon:

"A third official says that S&P made a "serious mistake" in its analysis, "based on flawed math and assumptions," so the Obama administration is pushing back. But even though "S&P has acknowledged its numbers are wrong, it's unclear what they're going to do.," the official said.

"S&P's numbers were off by "roughly $2 trillion," the official said.

Fitch and Moody's reaffirmed the AAA US rating earlier in the week.

In addition to the question raised about a mathematical error, there are substantial reasons to doubt S&P for any credit rating, let alone the sovereign debt of the United States  This material is from an article on April 25, 2011.  It is highly relevant to the situation at hand.

Decline and Fall - Why Would Anybody Believe Standard and Poor's?

Michael Collins
sp1.png
We are in the midst of a bum's rush - the quick eviction of a less than desirable in an unpleasantly abrupt fashion. The problem is we're the bums. Our eviction from the political process is all based the word of a firm that helped fuel the housing bubble, trigger the financial collapse, and found itself indicted by the State of Connecticut for "unfair, deceptive, and illegal business practices" in 2008.

Why the economy isn't recovering

There has been a lot of talk about a double-dip recession recently by people like Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini, how to define it, and what it means. What is missing from these discussions is the most obvious question of all: why won't the economy recover?
Capitalism is supposed to be self-correcting - or so we've been told - and a recession like the one we've had is supposed to be that reset button. So why aren't businesses hiring?
I'm going to try to answer that question in the simplest way possible.

There are two primary reasons why the economy isn't recovering, one reason is cyclical, the other is secular.

Pages