May 02, 2016

Odious debt is often mentioned, but its origin is most often those odious credits and odious borrowings that abound

Sir, Benedict Mander, with respect to Argentina issuing debt writes: “These yields don’t exist anywhere else in the world in countries with such low levels of debt,” said [enthusiastically] Facundo Gómez Minujín, managing director at JPMorgan’s Argentina unit. “Argentina targets $30bn debt issuance” May 2.

Is that not a sign that Argentina, if it took on debt, should demand to pay less or just leave it like that?

And by the way, what has the fact that Argentina has low level of debts to do with anything? Is not debt to be contracted only if you have something really worthy to do with it, something that will allow you to repay the debt and leave some decent returns?

I do not know much about Argentina, and I do not intend any similitude, but I do know that I profoundly dislike all those who knowing how bad it was run, and how little with its huge oil revenues it should need credit, still financed the disastrous XXI Century Socialism Venezuela, only because risk premiums seemed good. Had they not done so, Venezuela could perhaps already have been able to rid itself of The Tragedy. Had they not done so, Venezuela would not, on top of all its other current mindboggling difficulties, need to add the service of totally unproductive contracted debt.

For me good governments are those who stay out of debt even if conditions seem fair, only on account that debt basically represents advance fiscal revenues, to be paid later by the next generation.

We do need a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism (SDRM) but, if it is going to produce reasonable results for the citizens, then it has to begin by defining very clearly what is odious credit and what are odious borrowings. I have sometimes argued that any public borrowing that offers to pay more than a specified number of basis points over what the best debtor is paying, could be considered as odious.

I know it is way too extreme, and has absolutely nothing to do with Argentina or Venezuela, but the question needs to be asked, so that the point I am making becomes utterly clear: Would bonds issued for the construction of the crematoria ovens in Auschwitz be included in any debt restructuring… or should these just be thrown out… or should the financiers also be judged?

@PerKurowski ©