BY Matt Atkins
Latin America's third-biggest economy Argentina has defaulted for the second time in 12 years, after failing to strike a deal in time to meet a midnight deadline for a coupon payment on exchange bonds.
Argentina had sought in vain to gain a last-minute suspension of a ruling by US District Judge Thomas Griesa in New York to pay holdouts $1.33bn plus interest. Judge Griesa ruled Argentina could not service its exchange debt unless it paid holdouts at the same time.
The consequences for the struggling economy are dire. Even if the default is a relatively short one, Argentina will see raised borrowing costs, further pressure on the peso, and a drain on foreign on reserves. The default will also pour fuel on the country’s soaring inflation rates.
While the current situation is bad enough, Argentina has faced worse. Today’s troubles are a world apart from the crisis of 2001, when the economy collapsed, causing millions to lose their jobs. This time around, while the country is already in recession, the country’s government is solvent. It must now attempt to extricate itself from its obligations as quickly as possible to avoid further harm to the economy.
Argentina’s failure to strike a deal with hedge funds will not have any great impact on the global economy. The country has been isolated from global credit markets since its 2002 default on $100bn. US ratings agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded the country's long- and short-term foreign currency credit rating to ‘selective default’, which will stand until Argentina makes its overdue 30 June coupon payment on its discount bonds maturing in 2033.