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Economía y Finanzas  
 
24/11/2012 | Argentina's debt default - The noose tightens

The Economist Staff

ON OCTOBER 26th an appeals court in New York sent shock waves through the sovereign debt markets, when it upheld a ruling that Argentina could not service the bonds it issued in its 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings unless it also paid the investors who rejected its offer in those exchanges.

 

The decision left Argentina with a mere glimmer of hope: the court asked Thomas Griesa, the judge responsible for the case, to determine precisely how much Argentina would have to pay the “hold-out” creditors in order to stay current on its performing obligations. If Judge Griesa decided to show mercy to Argentina, he could have merely required the country to make a matching payment to the hold-outs whenever it paid interest on its debt, or devised any other formula that would have limited Argentina’s responsibilities to its bitter financial rivals to an acceptably small sum.

But on the eve of America’s Thanksgiving holiday, it was the hold-outs—led by Elliott Management, a New York-based hedge fund with a formidable team of lawyers—who were giving thanks. On November 21st Judge Griesa found in favour of the creditors. He interpreted the bonds’ pari passu clause to mean that Argentina could not fulfill one of its obligations—paying what it owes to the holders of its restructured debt, which is the next interest installment—unless it fulfilled the other as well: paying what it owes to the hold-outs, which is their full $1.3 billion claim, representing the face value of the defaulted bonds plus a decade of past due interest.

That took away perhaps Argentina’s best hope for a legal reprieve from the Sophie’s Choice it now faces. One option is to deposit the money the hold-outsdemand into an escrow fund, which would be released to them if the country’s appeals are rejected. But the government has long sworn never to surrender to the investors it calls “vulture funds”. Otherwise, it must tell its other creditors that it can only pay them outside the United States. It will have to make a decision by December 15th, when the annual payment on its GDP warrants comes due.

Whatever Argentina chooses to do will have significant ripple effects. If it buckles and pays this group of hold-outs, the other hold-outs are sure to file copycat claims, which could increase its liability fivefold. Moreover, the holders of its restructured bonds could also try to sue it to receive the same treatment. That would require it to fend off yet another wave of lawsuits. To stand its ground, it will have to find a foreign financial firm with no presence in the United States to process the transactions, and ask its bondholders to accept payment abroad. The markets would almost certainly regard such a request as a default, triggering credit-default swaps on the country’s debt, and effectively undoing the biggest sovereign restructuring in financial history.

It is too early to conclude that the ruling undermines the legal framework for debt restructurings in the United States. Most sovereign bonds issued in the past decade includes “collective-action clauses”, which force creditors to accept an exchange offer if it is approved by a sufficient super-majority of their peers. And the ruling will surely encourage debtors to scrutinise the precise wording of their pari passu and collective-action clauses going forward. They will presumably take special care to “aggregate” different bond issues, so that a hold-out investor cannot buy a large position in the smallest debt series and clog up an exchange.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of currently outstanding sovereign debt whose wording could possibly make its issuers legally vulnerable in the case of default to the precedent set by Judge Griesa. Distressed borrowers have been put on notice.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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05/09/2009|
26/08/2009|
21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House