Latest posts

- The Greek government

- One or two French banks

- The Finnish government

- Spanish banks, UK banks, hmm a few banks really

These are just some of the world-class institutions Joseph has managed to annoy with stuff he’s dug up over the years. He joined FT Alphaville way back in March 2010.

Joseph likes all the politically and legally fiddly bits of finance. He also likes credit, rates, global macro, tail risk, and all that stuff. (You should email him story ideas. He’ll take anything.)

He doesn’t have a finance background.

A history of leverage and the mining industry, 2010-2015

Or, in chart form via Investec… Read more


All those San Francisco meetings paid off.

Franklin Templeton and other private creditors will agree to swallow a writedown on their Ukrainian bonds. Cutting a fifth off bond principal, it’s much less than many expected. Bond prices were rallying hard at pixel time.

Then there is the issue of Moscow. Since Russia’s said no about restructuring its own Ukrainian bond. Read more

DIY private equity

Or, a coda to our recent post on hacking the world’s most expensive asset class.

If investors locking up their money in leveraged buyout funds really could have gotten the same aggregate return all along simply by buying the right, leveraged stocks in the public market — then there’s an interesting implication.

Why isn’t everyone already doing it? Read more

Someone didn’t read Santiago Principle No. 14…

That would be the Santiago Principles signed up to by sovereign wealth funds in 2008, regarding good governance — including via-a-vis the custodians of SWFs’ often-plentiful assets.

While it was BNY Mellon who paid nearly $15m on Tuesday to settle SEC charges that it handed out internships to the family of a SWF client’s official, in order to retain the fund’s business… Read more

How does that bail-in instrument work again?

Following the results of the Asset Quality Review and Stress Tests before the end of the year, the bail in instrument will apply for senior debt bondholders whereas bail in of depositors is excluded.

Eurogroup statement on Greece, August 14th

Which ‘instrument’ might that be for wiping the senior bonds of under-capitalised Greek banks? Read more

Google “super excited” to discover segment reporting

In segment 1 of ‘Alphabet, Inc.’: Boring things that make money

In segment 2: Eternal life, meatbagless cars, talking thermostats Read more

Just another sovereign default

Another sovereign issuer started defaulting on its debt on Monday — treading a path well-worn by governments who run out of money.

This is Puerto Rico and the US muni market however, so the actual statement from its Government Development Bank, on missing a Public Finance Corporation bond payment, might make it appear as if things are different this time: Read more

No really, here’s how we’d restructure Greece’s debt, by the IMF

Here is another very strange, and short, document. Click to read.

It’s an update to the Greek debt sustainability analysis by IMF staff — yes one of those analyses again — which was originally published just before Greece’s July 5th referendum. Read more

Swift conclusion

Deep down in Tuesday’s nuclear agreement between Iran and six great powers… (emphasis ours) Read more

Let’s talk about… the 1953 London Agreement on German External Debts

At length. Because haven’t you heard?

Germany is a hypocritical creditor.

It won’t give Greece the debt relief which it received itself in the 1950s.

Thomas Piketty said it. So it must be true: Read more

How we would have restructured Greece’s debt, by the IMF

Here is an earnest, but very strange, document. Click to read.

It’s a Greek debt sustainability analysis by IMF staff. Yes, one of those analyses. A preliminary one, but in many ways the DSA to end all DSAs. Read more

Defaulting on the IMF: a stupid idea whose time had come

This belief — that an implicit official sector guarantee has quietly settled over every sovereign debt instrument issued by every geopolitically significant country on the planet — is a fallacy. The moral hazard implications of allowing this idea to prosper are staggering. More importantly, the official sector lacks the resources to make good on such an implicit guarantee, even if it wanted to do so.

– Lee Buchheit, ‘Sovereign fragility’, 2014

Coming home to roost now though, isn’t it? Read more

“The Governing Council stands ready to reconsider its decision”

The decision being to keep emergency liquidity to Greek banks going at its level last week. From the ECB’s Sunday statementRead more

“The Eurogroup has been open until the very last moment…”

After that late-night announcement in Athens of a July 5th referendum, the response on Saturday…

In one sense, Greece’s full membership of the euro is, quite literally, already being consigned to the footnotes of history.

Dear Mme Lagarde

She’s a little busy with Greece at the moment. But just under two weeks after Christine Lagarde read the IMF equivalent of the riot act to Ukraine’s biggest bondholders over its debt restructuring…

They’ve responded. See below for the full open letter from Ukraine’s creditor committee on Wednesday: Read more

Sovereign default: how to do it in rhetorical style

The governments change, the debts change. The rhetoric, on the other hand…

In light of the Greek prime minister’s recent ‘humiliation’ speech and the rather heated reaction it’s had among official creditors (and private bondholders) – we thought we heard some historical echoes. So we took a quick look through the archives. Read more

Capital, meet labour

“Their work is the basis for [Defendant's] business…”

 Read more

IMF to Ukraine: take the red pill

It’s jargon-tastic and it’s come out of Washington DC late on a Friday, but do read this IMF statement on Ukraine’s debt restructuring. As Barnejek tweeted, it’s financial history in the making… Read more

The 100-year carwash

Click above for the prospectus for the 100-year bond being marketed on Monday by Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil giant and sometime corruption-riddled enterprise.

Pricing (says Bloomberg) is somewhere around 8.8 per cent. Read more

Moratorium on Moscow?

On May 28, Ukraine will pay $88m in interest on its $2.25bn bond due 2022.

On June 20, it will also pay a $75m coupon on that $3bn bond owed to Russia.

Well, we say ‘will.’

This might get in the way first: Read more

And then there were four, Ukraine bonds edition

Back in April, five leading owners of Ukrainian bonds formed a committee to negotiate a restructuring with their debtor – and avoid losing money on their approximately $10bn principal in the process.

Now count the names in this release on Monday… Read more

The great Bonar caper

Are you an EM fund manager?

Do you live in London or New York?

Were you by any chance offered some of the $1.4bn of Bonar 2024 bonds issued by Argentina on Wednesday, bought by Deutsche Bank and BBVA on Thursday, and settling this Friday? Or maybe you’d like to buy these bonds in the near future.

Then congratulations. You might well also be buying yourself a ticket to the next exciting stage of the pari passu saga.

PS: this may now involve the holdouts personally hunting you down. Read more

A little Ukrainian bond list

There have been a few doubts lately about whether Ukraine was going to include that $3bn Russian bond, issued in 2013 and maturing this year, in its debt renegotiation with private creditors.

Well, over to a resolution by the embattled country’s Cabinet of Ministers… Read more

Is Ukraine’s Russian bond ‘official’ debt or not?

Update: Seems we were right to regard this as curious…

Late on Thursday the IMF walked back on the idea the Russian bond is official debt, per ReutersRead more

Ukraine’s bonds: a little local leverage

The Russia problem aside, Ukraine’s other big task in its $15bn debt restructuring will simply be to convince private bondholders that it’s a deal worth taking.

One way to do that is for bondholders to realise they are dealing with a government burdened with the costs of war and as it happens, increasingly absorbed in an intense lustration campaign.

But some of them (quite possibly one that lives in San Mateo, CA) could have holdings large enough to block a bondholder vote. So, even if Natalie Jaresko, the Ukrainian finance minister, does like to quote Margaret Thatcher about there being no alternative… the new bond terms will need to justify taking a massive haircut compared to holding out for full payment.

Another way to do it? Note how ripe for abuse the old bond terms are.


When Lee Buchheit, Ignacio Tirado and Mitu Gulati were looking deep within the innards of Cypriot government bonds just over two years ago — shortly before the climax of the island’s debt crisis — they found something exciting. Read more

Tomato ketchup, mac n’ cheese, kool-aid, private equity existential doubt and anomie

Well, shouldn’t buyout firms be a little perturbed by things like this?

PITTSBURGH and NORTHFIELD, Ill., March 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create The Kraft Heinz Company, forming the third largest food and beverage company in North America with an unparalleled portfolio of iconic brands… Read more

Stopping a Russian bond invasion

All it took was 11 days — and one schtum Kremlin spokesman — to make people wonder recently just how strong and secure a ruler Vladimir Putin really is.

They might want to look inside his Ukrainian bonds next. Read more

An Argentine bond reprieve — or is it?

Could there finally be a limit to just how far around the world the pari passu saga goes?


But for a longer answer, read on. Read more

A British OFAC?

This won’t be getting any UK Budget financial headlines. (Between Help to Buysa, more bank levy twiddling, and even Northern Rock’s £13bn Granite securitisation going on sale.)

On the other hand, it’s been quite a year for financial sanctions — those against Russia having been some of the most complicated ever. Read more

Bonar turns into subpoena

That’s the gist of the latest from Judge Thomas P. Griesa…

On Wednesday the District Court judge ordered Deutsche and JPMorgan to turf over documents on the “flow of funds” relating to an unofficial, $2bn sale they were arranging of US dollar-denominated — although not US-law — bonds (Bonars) issued by Argentina. Read more