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Credit event: Know your exposure

Greece's situation could already constitute a credit event. What are the consequences if it does?

The recent financial travails of Greece raise three interesting questions: First, has the country's conduct so far constituted a credit event and, in particular, will any of the steps Greece has taken in response to the demands of the situation be found to constitute a credit event? Second, even if no credit event has occurred yet, will Greece be able to avoid restructuring its debt if it fails to satisfy the conditions precedent to its receipt of EU and IMF support? (Whatever waivers the political process might provide to Greece, it seems unlikely that those who bought protection will be satisfied with politically desired social peace.) Lastly, will the decline of Greece's financial rating to junk status create rights for protection buyers even if such a decline is not a credit event?

As a basic proposition, we are assuming that significant numbers of Greek sovereign risk credit default swaps (CDS) or indices including Greek sovereign risk have Isda 'failure to pay', 'restructuring' and 'repudiation/moratorium' credit event definitions. It appears that every effort has been made by Greece to avoid triggering these credit events, at least based on its public statements. And yet one must be concerned that promises made by Greece to the European Central Bank, the IMF or its fellow EU countries, or public announcements by Greek politicians urging the protection of entitlements over payment of state external debts, verge on repudiation.

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