Tag Archives: Redenomination

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.