Argentina will negotiate with holders of its sovereign bonds and the International Monetary Fund to extend the maturities of its debt obligations, as a way of ensuring the country's ability to pay, Treasury Minister Hernan Lacunza said on Wednesday.
At a news conference after meetings with an IMF team visiting Argentina, Lacunza said the government would re-profile the maturities of debt owed to the IMF under a US$57 billion standby agreement.
Interest and principal payments on bonds issued under international and local law will not be altered in the re-profiling. The changes in maturities would be aimed at obligations held by institutional, rather than individual investors, he said.
The priority today is to guarantee stability, because it is useless to launch reactivating measures if there is no stability. The first thing is to recover that stability, Lacunza said at the news conference in Buenos Aires.
The peso took a beating during the day, even though the central bank heavily intervened in the foreign exchange market for a second consecutive day.
Argentine asset prices have gotten slammed since the Aug. 11 primary election showed business-friendly President Mauricio Macri has surprisingly little public support in his campaign to win a second term in the October general election. He was trounced in the primary by center-left Peronist challenger Alberto Fernandez, who is now the clear front-runner.
President Macri instructed me to solve the short-term problem to guarantee electoral stability, but also in the medium- and long-term so as not to leave a problem for the person who follows, be it he or another candidate, Lacunza said.
He said the measures were taken so that the president can deploy his policies without the restriction of imminent, or too high, debt maturities.
Argentina's peso closed 3.1% weaker at 58.1 per dollar on Wednesday, even as the central bank sold US$367 million of its reserves in a second consecutive day of heavy intervention aimed at controlling the peso's fall.
Worries over Argentina's ability to meet its dollar-denominated debt obligations have increased since the Aug. 11 primary. The peso has lost almost 22% of its value against the U.S. dollar since then. The weakness of the currency has inflamed market concerns about Argentina's ability to pay its dollar-denominated obligations.
Changes in the maturities of short-term debt, known as Letes and Lecap, will be between three and six months, Lacunza said. He said changes in maturities of bonds issued under Argentine law would require approval from Congress.
The markets will see this as a default, Hernan Esteves, economist with Buenos Aires consultancy FyEConsult, stated.
The problem is that you have a debt restructuring proposal launched by one government, but that will have to be executed by the next government, Esteves said. That makes it very difficult to manage an orderly restructuring.
The IMF said in a statement that it was analyzing the government's new debt plan. Argentina has taken important steps to address liquidity needs and safeguard reserves, said the statement from IMF spokesman Gerry Rice.
The central bank issued a statement saying it would continue to implement a restrictive monetary policy and continue intervening in the foreign exchange market to bolster the peso.
The pushing out of debt maturities was aimed in part at preserving the central bank's dollar reserves, which stood at US$57.9 billion as of Aug. 26.
The decisions that have been taken prioritize the use of international reserves to preserve monetary and financial stability, even if this implies delaying payments to large public debt investors, central bank chief Guido Sandleris said in a separate statement.
These decisions should lessen the pressure on the foreign exchange market, reduce the eventual demand for foreign currency and guarantee the availability of resources to limit volatility, it said.
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This is terrible. Sr. Lacunza and El Presidente Macri have betrayed Argentina and Argentine traditions. Don't they know when you are about to default on your debt and urgently need help to reschedule it, then it is traditional in Argentina to blame the people who lent you money and insult the people whose help you need to refloat your economy.Aug 30th, 2019 - 12:26 am +2
Why are we not hearing about the Vulture bondholders and the Evil IMF. When will the Argentine Tele novella return to normal programming and embrace the traditional values of blaming everyone else and demonising anyone who doesn't immediately rollover and give you what you want.
200 years of tradition abandoned in a heartbeat. Traitors!!!
218½ years!Aug 30th, 2019 - 05:50 pm +1
Shocking! Disgusting! Traición!
@RicoAug 30th, 2019 - 09:41 pm -1
...it is traditional in Argentina to blame the people who lent you money.
Prey say who is this nasty Argentina? who blames the people who lent you money...whose help you need to refloat your economy.
Also, could you spare a thought for those much-vilified IMF and vulture bondholders -- I mean, how can these heartless people blame those who lent you money and insult the people whose help you need to refloat your economy.
No doubt, the IMF made a supreme effort and lent an all-time record amount of money -- as requested by the Macri government. While I do note the IMF's generosity, I cannot help but notice that most of the $50-billion dollar loan seems to have vanished without a trace -- hey, this is the work of those ungrateful Argentines, who spent the money on frivolities and now claim not be able to pay back. They are now biting the hand that fed them!
As for the vultures, I hear they are just now trying to help the Argentines by buying the much-devalued bonds -- papers almost worthless today but, who knows in the future? I wonder what countries like Argentina would do without the vultures. I mean, in 2016 they made a kill thanks to Macri's willingness to acknowledge their civic vocation and paid them more cash than they had asked for.
Macri is the only president who hasn't blamed the vultures or the IMF for Argentina's misadventures. Long life to the president!