THE DEBT CRISIS

Why the Argentinean debt crisis is relevant for Europe

The fight over the Argentinean debt has been continuing without interruptions since the country of the Rio de la Plata established a new record declaring default for 80 billion dollars in 2001, the biggest bankruptcy in world’s history. In 2004 the Government headed by Nestor Kirchner, husband of the current Argentinean President, proposed the debt’s partial payment to Argentinean creditors. Facing the concrete possibility of not obtaining anything, around 93% of them accepted the haircut. A minority, the 7%, did not accept the haircut and maintained its original stance that is, to obtain the payment for the total amount plus interests. This distinction between the two groups produced various effects, both for Argentina and for the international system. On the one hand, those effects are the perfect tool that allowed and keeps allowing President Cristina Kirchner to enforce populist reforms against the “imperialistic powers”; on the other hand, those effects are cracking the base on which the delicate equilibrium of bonds market for peripheral countries is based. The decision taken by NY’s judge Griesa, with which Argentina is condemned to pay to the holdouts the total amount of their credit (1.33 billions dollar) dramatically changed the outlook for this kind of negotiations. In fact, Griesa’s decision declares illegal and thus blocks any Argentinean payment made throughout the US (country in which the Argentinean bonds were issued) until the holdouts’ debt is paid off. Off course, this situation could not resolve in anything different than a technical default for Argentina. Without entering the merits of the disastrous Argentinean economic decisions during Kirchner’s era, which have been populist and not aimed to a healthy and robust economic growth, Griesa’s ruling opens the doors to the concrete risk of not being able to reach a deal when speaking of sovereign debt restructuration. In fact, in an extreme case, no creditor will accept to voluntary reduce its collectable credit if there is the concrete (legal) chance to obtain the entire sum instead. For this very reason, Griesa’s ruling is dangerous also for the European system where the economic surviving of countries such as Greece and Portugal could depend on a haircut’s success or failure. With what has been happening in the US, the success of such a plan cannot be taken for granted anymore, even with the BCE’s support.