Tag Archives: Italy

Monte dei Paschi Bail-X

The Economist reports about plans for Monte dei Paschi’s future:

… retail investors in the bank’s junior bonds, many of them ordinary customers. European state-aid rules say that they should lose their money along with shareholders. Technically, they will. In fact, to preserve their savings and avoid a political outcry, they will be deemed to have been “mis-sold” the bonds: they will receive shares which will in turn be swapped for new, safer bonds.

Italy has to come up with a restructuring plan, likely to involve job losses and branch closures, for the commission’s approval. (The ECB must also certify the bank’s solvency.) Bosses’ pay will be capped at ten times the staff average. And Monte dei Paschi must sell its sofferenze, the worst category of non-performing exposures, which in March amounted to 24% of all its loans. A state guarantee will cover senior tranches of these securitised debts. Atlante 2, a fund backed by Italian financial institutions, and others are negotiating with the bank over more junior slices.

Currency Denomination Risk in the Euro Area

In the FT (Alphaville), Marcello Minnena explains what type of currency denominations of Euro area sovereign debt constitute credit events; and how markets assess the risk of such denominations.

After the Greek default in 2012

new ISDA standards entered into force: contracts made since 2014 protect against euro area countries redenominating their debt into new national currencies [unless the debt is redenominated] into a reserve currency: the US dollar, the Canadian dollar, the British pound, the Japanese yen, or the Swiss franc. In all other cases, the only way to avoid the triggering of a credit event is if the switch to the new currency does not result in a loss for the investor: “no reduction in the rate or amount of interest, principal or premium payable”.

Since 2014 two types of sovereign CDS therefore coexist: the old (ISDA 2003) and the new (ISDA 2014). The latter has always traded at spreads wider than the CDS-2003, but the difference (the ISDA basis) has generally been small: 15-20 bps for Italy, 8-12 bps for Spain, 2-4 bps for France, and 1-2 bps for Germany.

Since January 2017, the spread difference for Italy and France has increased by roughly 20 basis points.

Re-Denomination Risk in France and Italy

On the FT Alphaville blog, Mark Weidemaier and Mitu Gulati argue that re-denomination risk in the Euro zone is most prominent in France and Italy. Bonds with CACs trade at higher prices.

Most French and Italian [but not Greek] debt is governed by local law. … the governments could pass legislation redenominating their bonds from euros to francs or lira.

… [But] some French and Italian bonds — bonds issued after January 1, 2013, with maturities over a year — have Collective Action Clauses (CACs). … Importantly, these CACs require a super-majority of investors (in principal amount) to approve any changes to the currency of the bond.

… But it’s also possible a local law bond is no different than a local law bond with a CAC. After all, both are ultimately subject to the whims of the local legislature, and the courts may side with them.

The markets seem to have a view, though: CAC bonds in the countries with heightened redenomination risk seem to be valued significantly more.

Private Sector Rescue for Italian Bank

In the FT, Rachel Sanderson and Martin Arnold report that the board of Monte dei Paschi is about to approve a recapitalization led by JPMorgan in order to avoid the alternative, a bailin according to European rules.

Other news sources reported that the European Commission had made it clear that it rejected the proposal by Italy’s prime minister (supported by the ECB president) to change the rules and let the Italian government finance the recapitalization. EU finance ministers and Angela Merkel had opposed the proposal as well.

This time, rules won.

Greece is not Ireland

In a Credit Writedowns blog post, Frederick Sheehan collected quotes that relate to the European debt crisis (he writes that Dennis Gartman first compiled the list). Some highlights:

“For a small, open economy like Cyprus, Euro adoption provides protection from international financial turmoil.”
– Jean-Claude Trichet, President, European Central Bank, January 2008

“Spain is not Greece”
– Elena Salgado, Spanish Finance Minister, February 2010

“Portugal is not Greece”
– The Economist, 22 April 2010

“Ireland is not in Greek territory”
– Brian Lenihan, Irish Finance Minister

“Greece is not Ireland”
– George Papandreou, Greek Finance Minister, 22 November 2010

“Spain is neither Ireland nor Portugal”
– Elena Salgado, Spanish Finance Minister, 16 November 2010

“Neither Spain nor Portugal is Ireland”
– Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD, 18 November 2010

“Spain is not Uganda”
– Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime Minister, 9 June 2010

“Italy is not Spain”
– Ed Parker, Managing Director, Fitch, 12 June 2012

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, President, Euro Group, April 2011

“The worst is now over—the situation is stabilizing.”
– Mario Draghi, President, European Central Bank, March 2012

“Uganda does not want to be Spain”
– Asuman Kiyingi, Uganda’s Foreign Minister, 13 June 2012

Debt Sustainability

The considerations guiding the IMF’s debt sustainability analysis which crucially determines the Fund’s lending policy is explained on an IMF website.

The DSA framework is in place since 2002. It has three objectives: To assess the current state; identify vulnerabilities; and examine alternative debt stabilising policies. Both total public and total external debt are analysed. Market-access countries and low-income countries are distinguished. These charts and tables summarise the DSA indicators for a market-access country. An example of the DSA is at display on page 41 in the September 2014 report on Italy.