Saturday, July 23, 2011

Greece Gets Bailout - and Defaults (Video) Fitch: Greece is "low speculative grade"

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Greece, with sovereign debt now at 150% of GDP, will struggle with high debt for many years.

Greece Defaults Through Refinancing The EU is going to refinance Greek debt of €109 billion via the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) by rewriting and extending the due dates at lower than market interest rates. If current debt holders, e.g. banks, do not agree, they take a 20% loss.

Greece Ultimately "Low Speculative Grade" CNBC is reporting: Fitch ratings agency declared Greece would be in temporary default as the result of a second bailout, which Athens said had bought it breathing space. But the agency pledged to give Greece a higher, "low speculative grade" after its bonds had been exchanged and said Athens now had some hope of tackling its debt mountain, which most economists still expect to force a deeper restructuring in the future. An emergency summit of leaders of the 17-nation currency area agreed a second rescue package on Thursday with an extra 109 billion euros ($157 billion) of government money, plus a contribution by private sector bondholders estimated to total as much as 50 billion euros by mid-2014. Under the bailout of Greece, which supplements a 110 billion euro rescue plan by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May last year, banks and insurers will voluntarily swap their Greek bonds for longer maturities at lower rates. "Fitch considers the nature of private sector involvement... to constitute a restricted default event," said David Riley, Head of Sovereign Ratings at Fitch. "However, the reduction in interest rates and extension of maturities potentially offers Greece a window of opportunity to regain solvency, despite the formidable challenges that it faces," he said.

Greece Gets a Second Chance Felix Salmon at Reuters summarizes the EU actions:
Extend the maturities on Greece’s debt from the current 7.5 years to somewhere between 15 years and 30 years: the loans that the EU is currently giving Greece aren’t designed to be repaid, in some instances, until 2041.
The interest rate on those loans will be extremely low — essentially, Greece is getting those EU funds at cost, currently about 3.5%. The EU is also extending these ultra-low financing rates to Portugal and Ireland, so as not to implicitly punish countries which don’t default.
The EU will put together its own stimulus plan for Greece. The phrase “Marshall Plan” was taken out of the final statement, but there’s still talk of “mobilizing EU funds” and building “a comprehensive strategy for growth and investment.” This is vague, of course, but it does at least constitute an attempt to help Greece through a period of very painful austerity.
The Maastricht treaty will get resuscitated, with all eurozone countries except Greece, Ireland and Portugal committing to bring their deficit down to less than 3% of GDP by 2013. This was a central part of the eurozone project from the get-go, and clearly the eurozone needs some kind of fiscal straitjacket for its constituent members to prevent the rest of them from running up enormous deficits and then getting bailed out by Germany.
● the EU will provide “credit enhancement” for Greece’s private-sector bonds. This is a central part of the default plan, and it looks a lot like the Brady plan of the late 1980s. The official statement from the IIF, which is representing private-sector creditors in this matter, is a little vague, but essentially if you’re a holder of Greek bonds right now:
 1) You can do nothing, and hope that Greece pays you in full and on time.
 2) You can extend your maturities out to 30 years, and accept a modest coupon of 4.5%; in return, your principal will be guaranteed with an embedded zero-coupon bond from an impeccable triple-A-rated EU institution, probably the EFSF.
 3) You can extend your maturities out to 30 years, take a 20% haircut, and get a higher coupon of 6.42%; again, the principal is guaranteed with zero-coupon collateral.
 4) You can extend your maturities out to 15 years, take a 20% haircut, get a coupon of 5.9%, and have only a partial principal guarantee through funds held in an escrow account.

Fitch says that Greece will face a restrictive default. The rating agency's concern added to market worries that Thursday's bailout announcement is very short on details. Lena Komileva, Global Head of G10 Strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman joined CNBC for a discussion.
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