Playboy has long mixed its girlie pics with serious journalism, but it’s not always obvious why. Take the December 2010 issue, for instance. It includes a fantastic investigative piece on vulture funds by Aram Roston, which isn’t advertised on the cover and which wasn’t placed online either until I found out about it a few days ago and started nudging them.
It’s sheerest coincidence that the UK’s new anti-vulture-funds law came into force just as the Ivory Coast was concluding its astonishingly successful debt swap. The Republic took all of its six defaulted Brady bonds, and swapped them for one brand-new $2.3 billion global bond due in 2032. And it got well over 99% of bondholders to tender their bonds into the exchange: this has to count as one of the most successful sovereign distressed-debt exchanges ever.
The UK government has finally published — in the waning days of the Brown government — its take on vulture funds, and whether there should be legislation trying to ban their activities. It’s not clear whether the report has the backing of the Conservatives, but it is clear that a lot of good-faith hard work has gone into it, and that it’s not in any way a knee-jerk piece of populist financier-bashing, a la Maxine Waters.
Remember the silly war on vulture funds being waged in the UK and, in the US, by Congresswoman Maxine Waters? Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that it’s making its way into the US Senate: Russ Feingold, the chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, is thinking of introducing legislation of his own. The good news is that his staffers are reaching out to people like me, and seem genuinely interested in trying to understand the issues and the potential negative consequences of any legislation.