Sunday 19 February 2012

Tyler Durden, Greek bonds and "odious debt"

Here, Tyler Durden discusses at length issues around the process of restructuring Greek debt.

It seems that we have to take into account the difference between bonds issued under Greek law and those issued under don-domestic law. One of the technical points is whether all holders of the debt have to agree to a new deal, and whether or not a minority can hold the majority to ransom by refusing to agree.

If, in desperation, Greece is driven to outright default whatever its creditors might think, this tears up the rule book and anything could happen. Other European nations are also severely distressed by debt and might try to follow suit. The very rule of international law would be challenged.

But there is an angle that Durden has not explored in his essay: the principle of "odious debt". There is precedent for a country repudiating damaging obligations, e.g. Mexico after the fall of the Emperor Maximilian, and the USA itself in relation to Cuban debt incurred under the previous Spanish regime.

Could Greeks be justified in arguing that bailouts imposed by their new, undemocratic government are not binding on the people? Could this argument also apply to debts incurred previously, directly and indirectly and consequently, in the process of acquiring EU membership, which it now transpires was based on fraud, assisted by bent accounting by Goldman Sachs and quite possibly connived at by the other EU states?

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

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