Remember when Europe was fixed, if only for a few weeks? Those were the times, too bad they are now officially over. EURUSD is back under 1.30 in thin volume because even as we "shockingly" find that, no, Greece did not have the "upper hand" since Greek bondholder negotiations just broke down (and that over the matter of a cash coupon delta between 3.5% and 4.0%, which implicitly means that from a bondholder IRR perspective, when taking a 15 cent EFSF Bill into consideration, the hedge fund community fully expects the country to be in default even post reorg in at about two years). But it is that "other" European country which was recently junked by S&P (causing the 10 year to soar to new records), that is now the focus point of (re)bailout concerns. Reuters reports: "The euro nudges down some 20 pips to $1.2995 in thin, illiquid trade with Tokyo dealers citing renwed fears Portugal may need a second bailout. Undermining the glow of Lisbon's achievements in reforming the country's labour market is the rapidly rising market concern that it is the next potential candidate to default in the euro zone after Greece -- a point that is fast becoming clear as Athens approaches the end of its debt restructuring talks." And here is the paradox: if Greece succeeds in persuading the ad hoc creditors to accept a 3.5% coupon, which it won't absent cramdown and CDS trigger, Portugal will immediately if not sooner proceed with the same steps. There is however, a problem. Unlike Greece, where the bulk, or over 90%, of the bonds are under Local Law, and thus have no bondholder protections (a fact about to be used by Greece to test the legal skills of asset managers who can retain the smartest lawyers in the world and generate par recoveries on their bonds in due course), in a generic Portuguese Euro Medium Term note Programme prospectus we find the following:
Oops: negative pledge (a simple one at that, not that garbled monstrosity of verbiage that some Greek bonds have) and UK-law. Looks like the Greek Modus Operandi of dealing with its uber-leverage problems will be quite hindered (read impossible) when its comes to Portugal, where a substantial portion of its sovereign debt actually does have significant creditor protections. It also means good luck not only trying to enforce a coercive cram down, but also attempting to layer on a primed piece of debt with liens on top of the EMTNs (i.e. IMF bailout capital), without every asset manager in possession of these bonds suing the country into oblivion at a London court of law.
Finally look for creditors to flock to these bonds at the expense of any other bonds (Interbolsa, older issues) that do not, as we predicted over the weekend.
So much for the Greek deleveraging case study applied to other European countries: think fast Troika.