Thursday, July 31, 2014

Singer v Argentina: financial crimes against humanity

Paul Singer's immoral campaign to extort unearned wealth from the people of Argentina has hit the wall.

Bankruptcy is a funny thing. I remember a real estate broker in Guelph who had survived three bankruptcies. He kept his fine home and his fancy cars throughout, and if his financial history impacted his standing in the business community, it didn't show.

On the occasion of my own bankruptcy, I recall my elderly mafioso neighbour imparting some words of wisdom; "things happen, son; sometimes you just gotta tip it and move on."

Business folks large and small routinely shift their "non-performing assets," i.e mistakes, into their weakest holding company, pull the plug, and carry on as though nothing had happened.

None of the Reichman brothers had to move house or skimp on meals when their Olympia and York flamed out in what was at the time the biggest bankruptcy in Canadian history.

However, if you hear Paul Singer tell the tale, bankruptcy by a nation state is an affront to God, and he is doing God's work when he uses the courts to put the squeeze on already-crippled national economies.

It's not that Singer lent those countries money and wants it back. The Singer M.O. is to wait till a country defaults, buy up their bonds at pennies on the dollar, and then use his vast resources and political influence to extort face value plus interest on that discounted debt.

The reason this works with a nation state and not with an individual or corporate debtor is because in theory, a nation state could amortize those debts so far into the future that eventually they would be paid. In the meanwhile, the citizens of that country will have to forgo a few frills like education and health care, but at least they're confirming Singer's idea of the rule of law.

Thus, when the people of Peru or Congo or Argentina have to do without so that Paul Singer's vulture funds can make a few un-earned billions, all is well with the world.

That's the American way!

No comments:

Post a Comment