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Monday November 29, 2010 - 09:53:44 GMT
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Irish Political Crisis Threatens Bailout (FXA)

Irish Political Crisis Threatens Bailout


The Irish bailout package totals EUR85bln and is expected to involved EUR35bln in funds for the banks (EUR10bln in immediate recapitalization) and EUR50bln to cover budget financing needs.  The Irish government will contribute EUR17.5bln or half of the bank bailout by tapping the National Pension Reserve Fund for EUR12.5bln and the government’s cash buffer account for EUR5bln.  The IMF, EFSF, EFSM and bilateral loans will cover EUR67.5bln with IMF making up EUR22.5bln, EFSM EUR22.5bln, EFSF EUR17.5bln and bilateral loans of EUR4.8bln (UK good for EUR3.8bln, EUR600mln from Sweden and EUR400mln from Denmark.   The interest rate on loans has not been fully flushed out but it looks like IMF will charge something closer to 5% while EFSF is expected to charge closer to 6% (well north of where Greece borrowed at close to 5% but the maturity of the paper is longer than Greek paper).  There are also reports Irish government debt will see maturities extended.  Senior debt holders will still be guaranteed while subordinated debt holders will not necessarily be made whole.  Eurogroup also went out of its way to outline the planned ESM or Exchange Stabilization Mechanism which would go into effect in 2013 and replace the EFSF which would be part of a permanent stabilization mechanism which key Eurogroup officials hope will preempt future rounds of contagion or default risk or debt restructuring from 2013.  It will differentiate solvency and liquidity issues…the latter suggesting debt restructuring option is on the table for debt issued after 2013.  Ireland’s advantageous 12.5% corporate tax rate stays and the government gets until 2013 to meet its 4% deficit to GDP target.


Okay the details of the deal were out hours ago and included a number of positive (for EUR) developments, some of which were unanticipated.  Yet the EURUSD traded up briefly in very early trading in Asia Monday only to reverse back to unchanged from late Friday.  What is wrong with this picture?  It is not just politics, but Irish politics that could render this deal a total renegotiation.  Irish press is already filled with reports of the government coalition led by Prime Minister Cowen is splitting into those who oppose the terms of the bailout and those who will back it.  The support of the Greens is now seen unlikely according to press reports today, nor are the two independents that are needed to give the Fianna Fail a majority and to approve the passage of the budget December 07.  Don’t look for a national unity vote to approve the government budget in the December 07 vote as Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein have all vowed to block the budget.  Major parties oppose the high rates of interest agreed to be paid to EFSF and IMF as well as using Irish funds to bailout Irish (and EU) banks. 


As far as the rest of the PIGS are concerned there remains some risk that the contagion will next knock off Portugal and Spain ahead and if Spain a relatively large country needs a bailout the problem might be seen as too big to save.  One thing that should be clear to all now is that if the early reaction in markets to the announcement of the program persists (risk off), the chances of contagion grow exponentially (should keep the USD bid).


No wonder a 2-tiered FX regime is emerging as main market assessment for plan B within the Eurogroup. 


David Gilmore


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