The sukuk shakeout arrives

By Felix Salmon
June 16, 2009

The first sukuk (Islamic bond) defaults have arrived, and no one has a clue how they’re going to shake out. Which might actually be a feature rather than a bug, going forwards.

Bondholders often have a large amount of complacency derived from the fact that an enormous amount of equity needs to be wiped out before they take any hit at all. And that complacency does the system no favors in the long term. If capital structures get muddied a little, and debt takes on more equity-like uncertainty — as seems to be the case in the sukuk market — then maybe investors will be more assiduous about examining underlying risks, rather than relying on capital structures to protect them.

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