Thursday, March 29, 2012

29/3/2012: Promissory Note 'deal' 2012

Trying to sort out the convoluted 'deal' announced by the Minister today and juggle two kids, plus struggle against the computer on a strike from too many files open is a challenge. I might be missing something, but here's my understanding of the thing.

  1. €3.06bn will be delivered not i cash, but in a long-term Government bond of the equivalent fair value
  2. We do not know maturity, but 2025 was mentioned before. Ditto for coupon rate, though Prof Honohan mentioned 5.4% coupon.
  3. Current pricing in around 88% of the FV, so €3.06*0.88=€3.47bn issuance to deliver fair value. If average  over longer term horizon is taken - that would go up. If yield is higher - that will go up. It is unclear what fees will be involved as the transaction is complicated (see following).
  4. As is - at current market pricing, there will be an increase in Government debt of roughly €410 million, plus the cost of transactions.
  5. As described above, and as indicated by Minister Noonan, Government deficit will increase by €90mln (approximately: 5.40%*410mln=€22mln plus margin on Government bond yield over interest rate holiday under Promo Notes in 2012).
  6. IBRC will receive the bonds and will repo them to Bank of Ireland on a 1 year deal. In other words, Bank of Ireland will buy the bond from IBRC then put it into ECB repo operations. LTRO being now closed, this will have to be normal repo with ECB. Bank of Ireland will repo IBRC-owned Government bond at ECB Repo rate (1%) + 1.35% margin. In effect, margin is the gross profit to the Bank of Ireland on this transaction.
  7. Before Bank of Ireland formally approves the transaction, bond will be financed by NAMA against IBRC collateral (now, imagine that - NAMA holds IBRC's assets and has a working relationship with IBRC. IBRC has no collateral that is equivalent to Government bonds - hence it cannot repo anything at ECB. So by definition, the collateralized pool backing NAMA-IBRC repo will have to be stretched). A year later, BofI might reconsider and roll the deal, but one has to assume that the margin will remain either fixed or go up, plus whatever the repo rate will be then?
  8. NAMA, as far as I understand, has no mandate to carry any of these operations, thus potentially acting outside its legal mandate.
  9. Minister for Finance will guarantee the entire set of transactions, including Bank of Ireland exposure. In effect, Minister will guarantee Government bonds (which is silly), collateral from IBRC, NAMA exposure, Bank of Ireland exposure and so on.
  10. NAMA will use own cash to finance the bridging transaction.
  11. Having received the funds from the repo, IBRC will remit these to (€3.06bn) to the CBofI to cancel corresponding amount in ELA.
  12. Has Net Present Value of the debt been altered? We do not know. We need to have exact data on bond maturity and the coupon rate, plus on overall profile of the rest of the notes to make any judgement here. Any change in the NPV under the above outline (1-5) is immaterial. 
  13. The positive factor of so-called 'more flexible fiscal buffer' is a red herring, in my view. The idea is that we are 'saving' cash allocation of €3.06bn this year, making it 'available' for borrowing in 2013. This is rather stretching the reality - the 'cushion' has been pre-provided to us by the Troika deal and is specific to the Promissory Notes. There is no indication that it can be used for any other purposes. Even if it were to be used for any other purpose, it would be an addition to the bond issued, so our debt will increase by the amount we use from the 'cushion'. Furthermore, the deal runs out in 2013 and thereafter no 'cushion' is available. So on the net, we have just paid 400mln increase in debt, plus 90mln in deficit to buy ourselves an 'insurance' policy that should we need 3bn in 2013, we will be able to ask for it from the kindness of the EU and have it for no longer than a year. That's pretty damn expensive insurance policy.
  14. The negative factor is that we now have almost 3.5bn worth of extra debt that is senior to the promissory notes it replaced and once it is repoed at the ECB it will be senior to ELA exposure. 
  15. Furthermore, this debt is in the form of Government bonds. So suppose we want to return to the debt markets in 2014. We have higher stock / supply of Government bonds (albeit 3.47bn isn't much - just a few percentage points increase) that markets will price in. Higher supply, ceteris paribus, means lower price, higher yield on bonds we are to issue in 2014. 
  16. Minister Noonan and a number of other Government parties' members have mentioned 'jobs creation' capacity expansion as the result of this deal. The only way, in theory, this deal can lead any jobs creation is if the Government were to use €3.1bn allocation available for Promo Notes under the Troika deal for some sort of public spending programme. Which, of course, means our debt will increase by the very same amount used.
Brian Hayes on Today FM described the 'deal' (H/T to Prof Karl Whelan) as 'A creative piece of financial engineering.' Presume safely that Brian Hayes has a firm idea that this description is a 'net positive' for the Government.

Following the announcement by the Minister, there were no questions allowed by Dail members and the Minister moved on to the really important stuff - straight to press briefing in the Department of Finance. He might have opted for the right move, however, since the Dail, without any interrruption vigorously engaged in a debate on this important topic:

On that note, the last word (for now) goes to Prof Whelan: "Ok, after exchanges with very wise @OwenCallan I have decided that this deal defers the 3.1bn payment by only one year. Worse than hoped for" (quoting a tweet).

Welcome to the wonderland of wonderlenders.


Adding to the above, it is worth postulating directly - as I have argued consistently, ELA is the only debt we can - at least in theory - restructure and promo notes are a perfect candidate for such a restructuring. By converting a part of these into Government debt we are now de fact increasing probability of a sovereign default or restructuring.

Karl Whelan has an excellent post on the 'deal' - here.

ECB statement on Ireland's 'deal' is here. This clearly states that there is no deferral of any payment on Promo Notes and that the Noonan's 'deal' is a one-off. Thank gods it is - because at a cost of €400mln in added debt, plus €90mln in deficit, repeating this exercise in PR spin would be pretty expensive.

Update 30/03/2012:

Today Irish Times is reporting that:

"Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the big benefit was the money would not have to be borrowed to pay this year’s instalment on the promissory notes, the State IOUs paying for the bailouts."

A truly extraordinary statement, given the state will borrow the money (some €410mln more in principal and €90 mln more in interest than actually it had to borrow) using a Government bond to pay said IOU!

The Irish Times headline reads: "Government wins backing on €3.06bn payment". Yet there is no any 'backing' from anyone on this deal, because the deal does not change the payment itself. Read the above-linked ECB statement on the 'deal'.

In another extraordinary statement, the Irish Times (this is their own claim) says: "Further talks on a long-term deal on the remaining repayments as part of a wider restructuring of the banks will continue between the Government and the troika of the EU Commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund." Is there ANY evidence that any such negotiations are ongoing? Where is this evidence? Please, produce!

And an excellent piece from Namawinelake on the above: here.


james said...

"So on the net, we have just paid 400mln increase in debt, plus 90mln in deficit to buy ourselves an 'insurance' policy that should we need 3bn in 2013, we will be able to ask for it from the kindness of the EU and have it for no longer than a year. That's pretty damn expensive insurance policy."

Rhetorically; was there a psychotropic vehicle involved too?
What was the point of this "deal" - "storing" "money" for another "jobs initiative"?
Or could it be possible that the Gov. have been covertly receiving advice from Bertie (texting from the Jacks in Nigeria); his vision for economic recovery.
Perhaps in tandem, with Sir Brian ex America; relaying data through one ear piece each, filling the lugs of Mr Noonan.

Georg R. Baumann said...

the spin today... yowza yowza... is all that comes to mind.

Charles Trench said...

Because of the general discontent around the household tax, and their impending ard fheis, Fine Gael had to be seen to produce a result for the people. The ECB refused to play ball so Noonan's very expensive fudge was cooked up.

It is astounding that the government are willing to accrue further debt, many multiples of the revenue they hope to get from the household tax, just to save face.