Thursday, August 21, 2014

Argentina Debt Crisis: Some Observations

The spectacle of the fight between the government of Argentina and the bond holdouts, led by Paul Singer of Elliot Management has been fascinating to watch. It does, however, point out weaknesses in the international financial system, is detrimental to the economy and, therefore, the people of Argentina, and highlights a problem with credit default swaps.
Some observations:

·       The Obama Administration should not have effectively blocked the IMF from submitting briefs to U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court, outlining its views of the dangers Judge Griesa rulings pose to future needed restructurings of sovereign debt. The Administration submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court; it is a mystery why it did not permit the IMF to submit its views. 

·       The failure of Argentina and the holdouts to reach an agreement and their subsequent actions indicates that this is about more than just money. Argentina is investigating Elliot Management for insider trading in connection with credit default swaps on Argentine government debt; Elliot Management has court permission to investigate certain entities incorporated in Nevada. The amount of money that could possibly belong to Argentina located in Nevada appears to be quite small in relation to the amount in dispute, if it exists at all. The real purpose seems to be to find financial fraud committed by high-level Argentine government officials, perhaps including that of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. I do not know whether there is any potentially illegal activity for either side to discover, but that they are investigating shows how difficult it will be to reach a compromise. Each side seems to want humiliation and capitulation of the other side. Ego, pride, politics, and contempt for and antipathy towards the other side are playing a large role. 

·       Argentina’s recent announcement that it plans to offer existing bond holders the ability to swap their bonds for ones issued under Argentine law with a different trustee than the Bank of New York Mellon has caused lawyers watching this to question the government’s tactics. (For example, see Anna Gelpern’s posts on this, here and here.) This does not bode well, though, for a compromise. The next President of Argentina may be handed this mess. 

·       There needs to be serious consideration given to finding a different way to settle credit default swaps. Elliot Management is a member of the ISDA Determinations Committee for the Americas, and, even though it has a clear conflict of interest whether or not any funds it manages hold credit default swaps on Argentine government debt, it has not recused itself from voting on issues pertaining to Argentina. I wrote about this in a previous post.

No comments:

Post a Comment