Who Cries for Argentina?

Argentina could default again at any time.

It´s actually up to a New York Court of Appeals (perhaps up to the US Supreme Court, if it comes to that).

Argentina has been ordered by a NY judge to pay $1.4 billion to creditors that hold bonds that did not participate in the 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings offered by the country. The Court of Appeals has already upheld that decision once. We are awaiting its final ruling.

Unless Argentina pays those “holdout” creditors, it is not allowed to pay anybody else. That is, a forced default. Argentina wants to and can pay exchange bondholders. But it certainly doesn´t want and may not be able to pay those holdout “vulture” funds.

Does anybody care if Argentina defaults, again? The Argentinian government may not care much. Many say that the country doesn´t really need access to international capital markets. In fact, the NY rulings may provide Argentina with a wonderful excuse not to pay any of its creditors, saving in the process billions of dollars in hard reserves.

What about the rest of the world? Does anybody care? Creditors may care (pensioners who were induced into putting all their money in Argentinian bonds may care a lot), but most of them already agreed to a huge haircut, so the loss would be somewhat relative (more a confirmation of a death foretold).

But Argentina is already close to pariah state. The IMF wants to kick it out from its premises. The country has “managed” its macroeconomic statistics with abandon. It is blatantly refusing to abide by the rulings of a court (Argentina chose to be judged by NY jurisdiction when it issued NY law bonds). It has imposed very harsh terms on people who lent her money. It consistenly uses very defiant language.

The worst side of this sorry tale is that no one may care anymore about the outcome. Many tried to help Greece, Portugal, Ireland. Many actually cared profoundly about the fate of these nations. Many prayed for their well-being.  Many made huge sacrifices in their aid.

Those same people and institutions may not want to be bothered by Argentina ever again. The very strong temptation is to get rid of her, evacuate her from our surroundings, and enjoy life in an Argentina-free universe.

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