Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yes! to the Call for a Global Constitutional Convention Focused on Future Generations

Stephen M Gardiner makes “A Call for a global Constitutional Convention Focused on Future Generations” to avoid the “tyranny of the contemporary”. In general terms Gardiner bases his argument on that “current decision-makers, and indeed the current generation more generally, face a serious temptation: they can take benefits now (for themselves), but defer many of the costs of their behavior far into the future (to others), even when this seems ethically indefensible”. And as a specific example he puts forward the challenges of climate change. 

I agree very much with his arguments and would propose the following two items are put on the agenda of that convention.

First to analyze the possibility of awarding all citizens, including children, the right to vote. The fact that for instance mothers or fathers could exercise the voting rights of their children under a certain age, like 15, would presumably put some pressure on parents to consider more their children’s future... for instance with respect to climate change.

Second, to exhaustible present as clear evidence of the tyranny of the contemporary the case of current bank regulations. With these, baby-boomers concerned exclusively with the immediate safety of the banks, imposed credit risk weighted capital requirements, which de facto stop banks from financing the “risky” future and have these only refinancing the “safer” past. We do not need climate change to evidence the costs of shortsightedness, when millions of young unemployed Europeans are currently threatened to become a lost generation. It would be a good opportunity to make a call for bank capital requirements based on job creation and sustainability ratings.

It would also be a good opportunity to make clear that, were we to put the climate change challenge into the hands of something as little accountable as the Basel Committee for Banking Regulations, then most likely planet earth would be toast.

PS. And if it was for me to decide, given that so much would have to do with ethics, I would try to squeeze in a session on the need for ethic ratings, since I am fed up with banks and regulatory authorities only using credit ratings, as if financing the construction of concentrations camps would be morally permissive, as long as its credit risk has been adequately priced.

Monday, September 08, 2014

On an odious bond issue to finance an odious government

Ricardo Hausmann and Miguel Angel Santos, in their “Should Venezuela default?” refer to a “$5 billion private placement of ten-year bonds with a 6% coupon, it effectively had to give a 40% discount, leaving it with barely $3 billion” 

That in cost represents approximately the same as a $3 billion ten-year bond issue with a 13.5% coupon. 

That type of financing of a sovereign should be prohibited for two reasons: 

First, that is, as you can understand, especially when the exact placement price of the issue is rarely reported, a completely non-transparent way of financing. 

Second, in the 2nd alternative, any new government who could obtain access to better credit terms, could much easier offer to repay the $3 billion issue, and thereby free the nation from those usury rates. As is, unless it enters into a default, it has to repay the full usury interests that are hidden away in the repayment of the $ 2bn in principal not received. 

And I would also like to know… who arranged that private placement and who bought it… so that I could express my contempt for it. Do they not know that Human Right’s Watch has clearly established that in Venezuela human rights are being violated? I mean where does the limit go? Would it be right to buy bonds to finance the building of concentration camps... if the price, the risk premium, is right? 

If financiers need credit ratings to base their decisions on, we citizens need governance ratings and ethic ratings to base the permission for our sovereigns to take on debt. 

Also… speculative investors should not have the right in any restructuring to have the cake and eat it too, meaning collecting their high-risk premiums and the full principal.

If you define clearly and effectively what needs to be considered as odious credits you solve about 90 percent of the problems with odious debts.