Here again we see another case of those that embraced capitalism on the way up, shudder at the consequences when things go the other way. Take the latest comments from the Irish Finance Minister, from Reuters:
DUBLIN, Sept 22 (Reuters) – It is unthinkable that Ireland or its banks would default on senior debt, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said on Wednesday.
Opposition politicians and some media commentators have called on Lenihan to force bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank [ANGIB.UL] to take some of the hit for the nationalised lender’s massive losses, which are a major burden on the exchequer.
“It’s unthinkable that Ireland would default on senior debt or that Ireland’s banks would default on senior debt,” Lenihan told Reuters in parliament.
“Ireland is not prepared to be some kind of social experiment for bank default.”
Why is it unthinkable? I’m not up to date with the extent of Anglo Irish Bank’s problems, but if the losses are big enough to eat through all subordinated debt then senior debt is next in line, simple. This is what happens in a restructuring, equity holders get taken out and bondholders take a haircut. Maybe the losses aren’t that big that senior bondholders need to take their lumps, but even so, to make a blanket statement such as the Irish FM has made demonstrates that he is firmly of the belief that bondholders aren’t responsible for their mistakes and that capitalism should be suspended when things go pear-shaped.