Thursday, June 4, 2015

4/6/15: Greece is Not Zimbabwe... but It Is Groovying with Zambia

So Greece opted to bundle its repayment to the IMF due June 5th into final one-shot payment due 'before' June 30th, raising total to be paid on June 30th to EUR1.5 billion. Before then, Greece faces public sector wages and state pensions bill of ca EUR1.5 billion, and EUR5.2 billion of maturing short-term debt.

The IMF official statement is here:
"The statement below is attributable to IMF Communications Department Director and Chief Spokesman Gerry Rice:

“The Greek authorities have informed the Fund today that they plan to bundle the country’s four June payments into one, which is now due on June 30.

“Under an Executive Board decision adopted in the late 1970s, country members can ask to bundle together multiple principal payments falling due in a calendar month (payments of interest cannot be included in the bundle). The decision was intended to address the administrative difficulty of making multiple payments in a short period. “"

As IMF notes, the 1970s decision (see below) is designed to deal with 'administrative' issues. In Greek case, the delay is linked to the ongoing battle between Greece and the Institutions [formerly known as Troika] over the new 'bailout' package. Which hardly fist 'administrative' label in any way.

IMF 1970s decision is cited here:
 Source: @jsphctrl 

Only payments for one calendar month can be bundled and interest due must be paid outside the bundling arrangement.

So far, in history of IMF, only Zambia availed of this arrangement in the 1980s. At least - a consolation prize for Europe - it was not Zimbabwe.

Another (close enough) case, but with more sinister outrun was Argentina, back in 2003-2004: "Last September, Argentina temporarily defaulted on a $2.9 billion payment due to the IMF until the new Standby Arrangement was hammered out. This March, the Argentines threatened to withhold payment of a $3.1 billion payment unless the IMF staff recommended completion of the second review of the loan accord." Source here. [h/t for this to @drubaid].

WSJ already updated their debt maturity timeline for Greece to reflect the 'bundling':

With OMT, LTROs, TLTROs, ELA, SMP, PSI, OSI, capital controls, SDR (IMF) reserves manipulation and now 'bundled' payments, Greeks are getting more and more inventive at creative sovereign finance...

Congratulations, Euro, the 'very soft default' has arrived...

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