Engineering an Orderly Greek Debt Restructuring
10 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 29, 2012
For some months now, discussions over how Greece will restructure its debt have been constrained by the requirement that the deal be “voluntary” – implying that Greece would continue debt service to any creditors that choose retain their old bonds rather than tender them in an exchange offer. In light of Greece’s deep solvency problems and lack of agreement with its creditors so far, the notion of a voluntary debt exchange is increasingly looking like a mirage. In this essay, we describe and compare three alternative approaches that would achieve an orderly restructuring but avoid an outright default: (1) “retrofitting” and using a collective action clause (CAC) that would allow the vast majority of outstanding Greek government bonds to be restructured with the consent of a supermajority of creditors; (2) combining the use of a CAC with an exit exchange, in which consenting bondholders would receive a new English-law bond with standard creditor protections and lower face value; (3) an exit exchange in which a CAC would only be used if participation falls below a specified threshold. All three exchanges are involuntary in the sense that creditors that dissent or hold out are not repaid in full.
Keywords: Greece, sovereign debt, default, restructuring, collective action clauses
JEL Classification: F34, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation