Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Argentina’s Default, Vulture Funds and the US Courts


In order to avoid a new default in less than three weeks, Argentina and all of the holdouts must reach an agreement that is acceptable to every restructured bondholder of Argentine debt and Judge Thomas Griesa.

Otherwise, some of the possible outcomes include:

(1) An international cascade of competing “legal” claims involving many other sovereign defaults besides Argentina’s


(2) A pseudo-Lehman Brothers CDS and derivatives scenario, possibly with new 2008-type bail-outs


(3) Deepening of the current de-dollarization of international finances, with markets, governments and the Federal Reserve befuddled and dysfunctional as in the 2008 limbo.

The setting

The glaring absence of internationally acknowledged legislation on sovereign bankruptcy to abide by forced common sense to prevail without the need for judicial intervention. Thus, the largest nation state default in history was successfully left behind, and by 2015, Argentina was expected to return to international credit markets after 13 years of ostracism.

Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman, in a front-page high-impact 2012 New York Times piece, praised Argentina’s “remarkable success story.” Many other world-renowned authorities agreed that the decades-long conundrum of debt traps had finally been solved, with implications of genuine growth.

Enter the US Judiciary and Vulture Funds

The US judiciary decided to treat a sovereign debt default as if it were a run-of-the-mill New York business bankruptcy. The minuscule (1.6 percent) albeit horribly powerful holdout vulture funds had taken advantage of the occasion to implement their cunning and fully vetted business model based on the purchase of defaulted Argentine debt that was handed over at dirt cheap prices.

This utterly suspicious class of “plaintiffs” had simultaneously engaged in swift and handsomely expensive lobbying.

Finally, they gained heavy-weight legal support, manifest namely in very “curious” US judiciary rulings in disdain of the very nature of a sovereign debt default.

Judicial overreach

Now, circumstances are pushing financial momentum for a brand new Argentine default with as of yet unfathomable “un-intended” consequences, including multi-multi-billion arithmetically unpayable new claims worldwide as the decisions of the US judiciary decisions would be taken as precedent.

The problem is that such sanctions were imposed on a nation state without internationally-acknowledged sovereign bankruptcy rules to back them up. As per sovereign immunity (something to which nation states cannot waiver) and also by definition, sovereign debt is unenforceable. The patient has died, and no miracle drug can revive the corpse. Debtors may have rights, but not remedies. US law, judges, and a “special master” do not apply to nation states. Judge Griesa’s “pari passu” interpretation has been hotly and widely contested worldwide, even in the US.

As a matter of fact, Judge Griesa’s own moaning for months along these lines is on record. The US Judiciary has overstepped the mark of common sense and violated several important clauses of the delicate, unwritten code that rules amicable foreign relations. The US judiciary should not establish US foreign policy, nor is it a world court. As per Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, the Supreme Court should not “exorbitantly approve” vulture funds’ direct access to US listings of Argentina’s seizable assets worldwide.

Eyes wide shut

Obviously, in view of the default that is being actively pursued, financial terrorists worldwide may now surely “join the party” by filing additional multi-billion claims through CDS’ Credit Default Swaps.

As the IMF is painfully aware, all of the above is bound to fuel a worldwide cascade of competing “lega” claims from vulture funds, plus restructured sovereign bond creditors and CDS holders, all of which would severely affect counterparties and possibly trigger systemic events that were absolutely unimaginable only a week ago.

It?s worth mentioning that CDS counterparty risk is concentrated in only ten ultra-highly leveraged “too-big-to-fail” banks, which may have to be bailed out yet again depending upon how events unfold.

Thus, the international financial system could needlessly find itself running around in circles, clueless and deeply submerged in a J.K. Galbraith type of “Age of Uncertainty.”

The question is whether the Fed is ready for any of this.

Jorge Vilches writes about trade and finances.


Jorge Vilches is a financial op-ed columnist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He can be reached at:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”