May 13, 2014

Is it ethical to expect high yields, no matter what? Like on a bond issue to finance a concentration camp?

Sir, Elaine Moore writes “More than 40 people have been killed in street protests [in Venezuela] involving supporters and opponents of the government”, “Unholy EM debt trinity tempts with high yields” May 13. And any investor who has done any reasonable due diligence on Venezuela would now that is only a small part of the tip of the iceberg, as Venezuela’s constitution, not the least on public debt issues, is blatantly and continuously being violated.

And so I ask, if an investor buys the Venezuela May 2023 bond yielding 12.5%, and Venezuela later, thanks to its oil has the money to repay, should he have the right to collect on his full yield expectations, independently of what the Venezuela government might be doing to its citizens?

As far as I am concerned, as a Venezuelan, I will do whatever I can for these investors not be able to collect on their juicy risk premiums. In other words I will try my utmost, to make their risk perceptions come true… and then some.

Has this issue not much more to do with ethics than with portfolio returns? I am of course by no means implying it is the same… but, what if in similar low interest rate environment, there had been a 10 year bond issue offering a 12.5% return in order to finance the construction of an Auschwitz type concentration camp… to be repaid with whatever could be confiscated and extracted from its victims?

Should all we citizens around the world not hold investors, and especially those investments banks who arrange the primary issues, to some higher ethical standards for our own mutual good?

Do we not really need ethic ratings more than credit ratings?