Why do governments repay external sovereign borrowing? This is a question that has been central to discussions of sovereign debt capacity, yet the answer is still being debated. Models where countries service their external debt for fear of being excluded from capital markets for a sustained period (or some other form of harsh punishment such as trade sanctions or invasion) seem very persuasive, yet are at odds with the fact that defaulters seem to be able to return to borrowing in international capital markets after a short while. With sovereign debt around the world at extremely high levels, understanding why sovereigns repay foreign creditors, and what their debt capacity might be, is an important concern for policy makers and investors. In our paper, Sovereign Debt, Government Myopia, and the Financial Sector, forthcoming in the Review of Financial Studies, we attempt to address these issues.
Posts Tagged ‘Sovereign debt’
An update on the final round of appellate filings in the NML v. Argentina appeal.
On January 25, briefs were filed with the Second Circuit on behalf of two groups of plaintiff-appellees in the appeal from District Court Judge Griesa’s November 21 injunction, NML and Aurelius. And on February 1, four sets of reply briefs were filed, on behalf of appellants Argentina, Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), the Exchange Bondholders Group, and Fintech Advisory. Under the schedule set by the Second Circuit, briefing is now concluded, and the next major event will be oral argument before the Second Circuit on February 27.
Copies of all of these papers can be found on our Argentine Sovereign Debt webpage, at http://www.shearman.com/argentine-sovereign-debt/. Our summary of the prior briefing on this appeal can also be found there.
We summarize below the major points made in each of these six briefs, followed by our compilation of the major issues cutting across the virtual mountain of briefing confronting the three-judge panel that will decide this case.
From the election of a French president who has openly expressed his opposition to austerity without a greater focus on stimulating economic growth to the struggles to form a new Greek government that may or may not agree to abide by the conditions set out in the existing bailout plan, recent elections have enveloped the Eurozone in yet more uncertainty. With the desire for an alternative to a programme of strict austerity gathering increasing popular support, balancing the challenges of the Eurozone’s rapidly escalating political crisis alongside the fiscal imperatives that need to be tackled has rarely been so difficult, or the path ahead for Europe’s leaders so unclear.
In these circumstances few would dare to predict the future. But the ability to assess and anticipate potential market risks – from the impact of sovereign debt issues on an already weakened banking sector to the prospect of a country, or even countries, leaving the Eurozone – is crucial. Also crucial is the need to prepare for a variety of eventualities, whether through more stringent credit assessment, tighter documentation, careful counterparty choice or other tactics.
Recent developments arising out of the Greek sovereign debt crisis have required the ISDA Determinations Committee to determine whether a “Credit Event” has occurred under credit default swaps (“CDS”) referencing Greek sovereign debt. The Determinations Committee concluded on 1 March 2012 that a Credit Event has not yet occurred. We explain below why this is the case.
Standard Sovereign CDS incorporates the 2003 ISDA Credit Derivatives Definitions (as amended). These definitions set out what will constitute Credit Events and the Determinations Committee will then decide (on request) whether a relevant Credit Event has occurred and, broadly, the market has agreed to live with the result.
The Credit Event in question is “Restructuring”. Many different things might constitute “Restructuring”, but those in play at the moment are: (1) reduction in principal or interest, and (2) change in ranking in priority of payment, causing Subordination. These must occur in a form that binds all holders of the relevant Obligation and must result from deterioration in creditworthiness or financial condition of the debtor.
On Friday, January 6, 2012, the staff of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance issued the fourth installment in its new Disclosure Guidance Topic series. Topic No. 4 focuses on the exposures of registrants to the debt of certain European countries. The staff specifically highlighted its concern about “the risks to financial institutions that are SEC registrants from direct and indirect exposures to” European sovereign debt.
The goal of this new guidance is to expand and enhance the disclosures that registrants provide related to sovereign debt exposures, to ensure that investors have transparent and comparable information about the uncertainties of these exposures. This information generally is included in registrants’ disclosures about risk factors, qualitative and quantitative market risks, and management’s discussion and analysis. Bank holding companies and other registrants engaging in similar lending and deposit activities also are required to make the disclosures required by the SEC’s Industry Guide 3 (Statistical Disclosure by Banking Holding Companies).
On November 15, 2011, the European Parliament adopted a regulation banning any person or legal entity in the European Union (“EU entities”) from entering into “naked,” or uncovered, credit default swaps (“CDS”) on sovereign debt and restricting uncovered short sales on shares and sovereign debt (the “Regulation”) after November 1, 2012.  The Regulation also bans such transactions from being effected on any trading venue in the European Union (the “EU”). CDS on sovereign debt that do not hedge exposure to the sovereign debt itself or to assets or liabilities whose value is correlated to the value of the sovereign debt will no longer be permitted. Short sales of shares and short sales of sovereign debt will be permitted only where the seller has “located” the share or debt instrument prior to entering into the agreement and has a “reasonable expectation” of being able to borrow the shares. The Regulation provides exemptions for market making activities and primary market operations and allows Member States of the EU (“Member States”) to temporarily suspend the ban on uncovered CDS on sovereign debt if the Member State determines that its sovereign debt market is not functioning properly as a result of the ban. The Regulation also introduces reporting requirements for significant net short positions.