Soaring oil prices will dwarf the Greek drama
Since last week’s eurozone “grand summit”, the headlines have been positive and, in the official photos anyway, the main players appear to be smiling. As such, the global equity rally goes on.
By Liam Halligan
25 Feb 2012
Behind the rictus grins, though, the gloves remain off, the rhetorical daggers still drawn. Having launched the biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history, Athens now faces the Herculean task of persuading holders of Greek bonds to accept a “voluntary” hair-cut.
Creditors are being asked to swap their bonds for a combination of new short-term instruments, issued by the European Financial Stability Facility, and longer-term Greek government debt. If half of them agree to take the hit then, under “collective action clauses” approved by the Greek parliament, the deal could be forced on all bond-holders.
This is a default in all but name, then, with “the powers that be” desperate to hold the single currency together while not triggering credit default swap (CDS) insurance policies that could themselves spark a whole new wave of financial panic.
The reported bond-holder loss will be 53.5pc – a headline number largely for the consumption of furious taxpayers in those eurozone nations that remain notionally solvent. In reality, payment durations and coupons will be tweaked, once the media has moved on, to ensure bondholders suffer less.
To be sure, though, there is still significant loss embedded in this deal, which is why the CDS switch could ultimately be flicked. That remains the case even if tame ratings agencies confirm their ludicrous “judgement” that an imposed €200bn (£170bn) debt-swap doesn’t amount to a “credit event”.