No, not your comp, though probably that too. The Times and the Journal check in today on the state of play in Greece and it’s kind of how you might expect. From the Times:
For months now, Greece has desperately been trying to persuade its private-sector creditors that it is in their interest to exchange their existing Greek bonds for longer-term securities and accept about a 50 percent loss as part of the bargain. The negotiations are known as the private sector involvement, or P.S.I.
A few months ago the deal looked doable, as the large European banks that held must of this debt, estimated to be around €200 billion, recognized that it was probably a better alternative than default, which could cost them everything. Moreover, the banks were sensitive to political pressure from their home countries, where they have a big stake in remaining on good terms with the government and key officials.
But as the talks have dragged on, many of these banks, especially big holders in France and Germany, have sold their holdings. Among the buyers have been hedge funds and other independent investors who are now questioning why they should accept a loss, known as a haircut, if, as it turns out, the deal remains voluntary in nature and Greece keeps paying interest on its debt.
And as the number of such hedge funds holding Greek debt has grown, so has their ability to forestall a restructuring agreement, thus bringing them closer to being able cash in on their high-stakes gambit.
From the Journal:
There are many potential pitfalls, each, in a way, leading to another pitfall-strewn path.
Ha! Also ha! on the Times’s sort of strange description of what the hedge funds are up to, though what they’re up to doesn’t itself sound strange. If I were a hedge fund here is what I would do:
1. Not buy bonds and then later “question why I should accept a loss”;
2. rather, buy bonds because I plan to get a gain;
3. specifically because I’m planning to be all “oh, man, I must have lost that consent solicitation in the mail, could you send it again” and otherwise generally stall on this voluntary offer until my bonds come due and are paid off with bailout money (maybe?);
4. or, alternatively, because I’ve got CDS against those bonds and have no intention whatsoever of voluntarily exchanging them and voiding my protection.
That or “stay the hell away from this situation.” But, like, the above is at least a strategy. Now, if I were a French or German bank here is what I would do: Read more »