It's Time To Blame CDS Again

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The CDS witch hunt is turning from the auto industry to the newspaper industry. Several newspaper companies recently failed to gain meaningful interest in their debt exchange offers because the majority of the bondholders were hedged through CDS and, consequently, had no incentive to agree to the exchange. One of the primary complaints about the CDS market was the use of CDS by market participants as purely speculative tools. In this case, the players that hold the debt are hedging their exposure through CDS and capitalizing on a negative basis play. If hedging debt exposure through CDS becomes the next true villain in the attack on derivatives, there is really no hope for this market.
Credit default swaps threaten newspaper cos. [The Deal]


One Last Greek CDS Post Before It All Goes Poof

One of the side benefits of Greece taking whatever somewhat irreversible steps it is now taking is that something will happen to CDS written on existing Greek debt and that will mean that we can stop talking about what will happen to CDS written on existing Greek debt and start talking about more interesting things like quasi-CDS written by the EFSF on shaky Eurozone government debt. For now, though, we've got at least a few more weeks of surprisingly and unsurprisingly ill-informed fretting that triggering the $4bn of Greek CDS will Bring Down The Entire Global Financial System. That seems sort of silly because notionals aren't that big, mark-to-market collateral is mostly being posted, and at this point the marks are pretty close to what you'll get from Greece so it doesn't look like there's tons of unknown unrecognized losses lurking out there. On the other hand, we're mostly through with the speculation that not triggering Greek CDS will Prove That CDS Is Worthless and thereby Bring Down The Entire Global Financial System, so that's nice. The reason that's mostly over is that it sure looks like Greek CDS will in fact trigger, as Athens has moved to adopt a collective action clause that will flip the Greek restructuring from "voluntary, heh heh heh" to "involuntary" and thus trigger the ISDA restructuring event definition. You can argue that the mechanics of the cash settlement auction will mildly screw CDS holders but I'm not so sure, and in any case this is pretty solidly in the category of derivatives nerdery rather than Bring Down The etc.