The Nikkei newspaper has released a very troubling if not totally surprising story, that Russia will ask foreign lenders to reschedule loans worth $400 billion, potentially the equivalent of a debt default depending on how it is structured. Just a reminder, the last time Russia defaulted on its bonds it set off a cataclysmic chain of events that terminated with Long Term Capital Management's implosion and the first major Wall Street mediated rescue of the financial system. This report has already caused the Euro in early Japanese trading to drop significantly against both the Dollar and Yen.
“European banks may face more financial difficulties, given the Nikkei’s report that Russian banks may negotiate a debt rescheduling,” said Yuji Saito, head of the foreign-exchange group in Tokyo at Societe Generale SA, France’s third-largest bank by market value. “It is natural that the euro is sold” to $1.27 and 117 yen today, he said.
The Russian Association of Regional Banks has submitted a plan for rescheduling loans to the Russian government, the Nikkei newspaper said, citing an interview with Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the association. The group is already in talks with HSBC Holdings Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, the Nikkei reported.
A $400 billion dislocation in credit markets is not what the global economy needs. However, we have no doubt that the equity market will have already factored this news and rise to new depression highs tomorrow.