Trichet Bonds to Resolve the European Sovereign Debt Problem
We propose the creation of “Trichet Bonds” as a comprehensive solution to the current sovereign debt crisis in the EU area. “Trichet Bonds,” to be named after the ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet, will be similar to “Brady Bonds” that resolved the Latin American debt crisis in the late 1980s and were named after the then Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady. Like the Brady Bonds, Trichet Bonds will be new long-duration bonds issued by countries in the EU area that will be collateralized by zero-coupon bonds of the same duration issued by the ECB. The zero-coupon bonds will be sold by the ECB to the countries issuing Trichet Bonds, which will be offered in exchange for outstanding sovereign debt of the countries. The exchange is offered at market value, so current debt holders will experience a “haircut” from par value, and thus the exchange does not involve a “bailout.” However, present holders of sovereign debt will be exchanging low quality bonds with limited liquidity, for higher quality bonds with greater liquidity. Debt holders not accepting the exchange will be at risk of a forced restructuring at a later date at terms less favorable. The effect of the exchange offer, if a threshold of approximately 70% approve it, is to replace old debt with a lesser amount of new debt with longer maturities. The creation of Trichet bonds will result in various advantages both in comparison to the present unstable situation and other proposed solutions. First, the long duration of Trichet bonds will eliminate the immediate crisis caused by short term expiration of significant amounts of debt which is looming over Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and possibly other EU countries. Second, the guarantee of the principal with the zero-coupon ECD bond collateral increases the quality of the Trichet Bonds compared to existing sovereign debt. Third, the market for the new Trichet Bonds will be liquid and likely to trade at appreciating prices as refinancing (roll-over) risk is reduced
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