Category Archives: default

21/4/17: Millennials, Property ‘Ladders’ and Defaults

In a recent report, titled “Beyond the Bricks: The meaning of home”, HSBC lauded the virtues of the millennials in actively pursuing purchases of homes. Mind you - keep in mind the official definition of the millennials as someone born  1981 and 1998, or 28-36 years of age (the age when one is normally quite likely to acquire a mortgage and their first property).

So here are the HSBC stats:

As the above clearly shows, there is quite a range of variation across the geographies in terms of millennials propensity to purchase a house. However, two things jump out:

  1. Current generation is well behind the baby boomers (when the same age groups are taken for comparatives) in terms of home ownership in all advanced economies; and
  2. Millennials are finding it harder to purchase homes in the countries where homeownership is seen as the basic first step on the investment and savings ladder to the upper middle class (USA, Canada, UK and Australia).

All of which suggests that the millennials are severely lagging previous generations in terms of both savings and investment. This is especially true as the issues relating to preferences (as opposed to affordability) are clearly not at play here (see the gap between ‘ownership’ and intent to own).

That point - made above - concerning the lack of evidence that millennials are not purchasing homes because their preferences might have shifted in favour of renting and way from owning is also supported by a sky-high proportions of millennials who go to such lengths as borrow from parents and live with parents to save for the deposit on the house:

Now, normally, I would not spend so much time talking about property-related surveys by the banks. But here’s what is of added interest here. Recent evidence suggests that millennials are quite different to previous generations in terms of their willingness to default on loans. Watch U.S. car loans ( and going South and the millennials are behind the trend ( on the origination side and now on the default side too (

Which, paired with the HSBC analysis that shows significant financial strains the millennials took on in an attempt to jump onto the homeownership ‘ladder’, suggests that we might be heading not only into another wave of high risk borrowing for property purchases, but that this time around, such borrowings are befalling and increasingly older cohort of first-time buyers (leaving them less time to recover from any adverse shock) and an increasingly willing to default cohort of first-time buyers (meaning they will shit some of the burden of default onto the banks, faster and more resolutely than the baby boomers before them). Of course, never pay any attention to the reality is the motto for the financial sector, where FHA mortgages drawdowns by the car loans and student loans defaulting millennials (,-Millions-Not-Making-Payments_bl29267.htm) are hitting all time highs (

Good luck having a sturdy enough umbrella for that moment when that proverbial hits the fan… Or you can always hedge that risk by shorting the millennials' favourite Snapchat... no, wait...

29/6/15: Greek Options & Default Contagion Mapping

Couple of interesting charts on Greece.

First up: what are the options?
Source: @MxSba

Interestingly Greece already has capital controls, but yet to miss (officially) and IMF payment. Now, even if there is a deal, Greece will still have to go into the arrears on IMF, unless they found that proverbial granny's couch from which they can squirrel away few bob (EUR1.6 billion that is). We also have an already scheduled referendum. Which, according to the chart is a dead-end. Which it is, because its outcome is either rejecting a non-valid deal or accepting a non-valid deal. Though, presumably, the non-valid deal can be revalidated by the Troika (Institutions) in a jiffy.

In short, the chart above doesn't help much.

Now, a default trigger table and a map:

Source: both via @jsphctrl

Non-payment to IMF can trigger (though does not have to) default on EFSF and holdout private sector bonds (pre 2004). Default on T-bills (short term bonds) triggers privately held bonds excluding holdouts and new bonds. Everything else is fairly simple. Now, per table above, we are in the 'Publicly Acknowledged' blue-shaded area (any delay on payment will be known at this stage and avoiding a public declaration will be hard, if not impossible, especially given political stalemate).

  • Non-payment to IMF triggers default on EFSF, and likely to trigger default on bilateral EU loans.
  • Non-payment of EFSF loans triggers nothing with any certainty.
  • The worst contagion is from PSI bonds default. 
Special note to CDS triggers: basically, bigger risks are from SMP (ECB) bonds, PSI (private) bonds, and post-PSI (private) bonds. EU loans and holdouts from PSI bonds are dodos. 

Enjoy playing with the above...

23/6/15: Ukraine’s Debt Haircuts Saga: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Two big setbacks for Ukraine in its bid to cut the overall debt burden and achieve targets mandated by the IMF.

First, Moody issued a note today saying that Ukraine will be in a default if it haircuts principal owed to private creditors. The agency said it believes Ukraine can deliver USD15.3bn in savings without haircuts. Ukraine believes it cannot. IMF backed Ukraine on this, but it is not to IMF to either declare a default even or not. Moody further noted that any moratorium on debt redemptions will have long-term implications for Kiev access to international debt markets.

Second, the IMF has signalled that private debt open to haircuts under Kiev-led negotiations does not include debt owed to Russia which is deemed to be official sector debt. This is not surprising, and analysts have long insisted that this debt cannot be included into private sector haircuts, but Kiev staunchly resisted recognising debt to Russia as official sector debt.

Incidentally, Ukraine debt to Russia is structured as a eurobond and is registered in Ireland, as reported by Bloomberg. The bond is structured as private debt, but Russia subsequently re-declared it as official debt. Re-declaration was somewhat of a positive for Ukraine, because a default on official debt does not trigger automatic default on private debt (the reason why the bond was originally structured as private debt was precisely the threat that a default on it will trigger default on all bonds issued by Ukraine). Ironies abound: IMF is happy to declare Russian debt to be official sector debt, because it takes USD3 billion out of the pool of bonds targeted for haircuts. This implies that for Kiev to achieve USD15.3 billion in savings, Ukraine will most likely need to haircut actual principal outstanding to private sector bond holders - something IMF wants Kiev to do. So here, too, Russian side gain is also Kiev's gain.

Ultimately, in my view, Moscow should write down the entire USD3bn in debt owed by Kiev. Because it would be ethical to do, and because it would help Ukraine. But that point is outside the fine arts of finance, let alone beyond the brutal realities of geopolitics.

More background on both stories: