The man who singlehandedly fought the administration over the idea of converting Fannie and Freddie into the latest taxpayer-funded handout machine, FHFA head Ed DeMarco, and refused to write down Fannie and Freddie home loans in yet another Geithner-conceived debt forgiveness scheme, whose cost like any other non-free lunch will simply end being footed again by yet more taxpayers (what little is left of them), appears to have lost the war, and with the second coming of Obama appears set to be replaced as head of the FHFA. The WSJ reports that "The White House has begun preparations to nominate a new director to lead the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as soon as early next year, according to people familiar with the discussions. This would pave the way for President Barack Obama to fill what has become one of the most important economic policy positions in Washington." And so the impetus for as many as possible to default on their mortgage in a wholesale scramble to obtain debt forgiveness, will soon take the nation by storm, while the contingent liability will be transferred to those who still believe that taking out debt should be a prudent activity and one that takes into account future cash flows. In other words, the solvent middle class - those who were prudent stupid enough to save when they should have simply be doing what the government does and spend like a drunken sailor, preferably on credit, will soon be punished once more. And like it. Because according to the new broke normal "it's only fair."
EuroWeek magazine reports that Greece has hired Lazard in an advisory capacity: it is not a stretch to assume that this is in connection with a potential, and some say inevitable, bankruptcy... unless the country is really serious about procuring a stalking horse distressed M&A bidder for Santorini. We also note that DebtWire has yet to report on this development: looks like the FT is really starting to slip. It would not be a stretch to see why Greece and Lazard are on good terms: after Greece basically put all banks on the kleptocrata non grata list, the pseudo-French company seems like a legitimated candidate (not to mention that France will fail first should Greece default). Additionally, in March 2009 the firm advised the Hellenic Government on the sale of various Olympic Airlines assets to Marfin. Lazard is also no stranger to sovereign reorg, having worked with Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cote d'Ivoire on various restructuring assignments. However, while those deals were a walk in the park, Jim Millstein and and new (and critical) addition Felix Rohatyn will find Greece, where 80% of the population does not want a bailout and in fact is rooting for a default, a much tougher nut to crack.
One of the major problems with having relatively few restructuring advisors and a whole slew of newly bankrupt companies, is that sooner or later advisors will trip over their own feet as previously undisclosed conflicts of interest come to light. This is exactly what may soon force Lazard to forfeit over $16 million in revenue it had hoped to generate by advising bankrupt Tribune in its chapter 11 plight.