What’s Argentina’s Plan B?

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said she will sell the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, if need be, to keep paying creditors who agreed to restructure the country’s debts.  But it may not come to that. Warning: this is a complicated saga with very interesting twists.

A pair of hedge fund litigants demanding $1.3 billion in payments and a New York court are making it hard for Kirchner to keep paying international bondholders. But she might contemplate asking those existing creditors to swap into Argentine law bonds, to which the writ of the New York court will not extend.

First some background. Argentina is due to pay bond coupons this week and in June. Looks like the hedge funds will decline the payment proposal Argentina made last week; this could lead to a default.

Most investors reckon this week’s payment is safe and that the crash will fall in June.  Argentina pleaded in the NY court that its own laws prohibit it from paying more to the hedge funds than it pays other creditors. Out of court it is less polite, calling the two hedge funds vultures. See here for more.

So, back to a putative Plan B. Deputy President Amado Boudou said this weekend Argentina would find a way to pay the exchange creditors irrespective of the outcome of the court hearing. That has supported bond prices. But it also suggests he may resort to local law bonds. That option, in principle, may look attractive to creditors who might otherwise find themselves holding defaulted debt again. In reality, the switch may be tough to do. Why? Here’s what Stuart Culverhouse, head of research at Exotix in London says: