2010年2月17日水曜日

GS ギリシャ隠ぺい工作加担か

GSはギリシャの債務隠ぺい工作に加担とのこと。
 ゴールドマン・サックス(GS)が金融取引を通じて、ギリシャの債務隠し
に加担していたと報じた。将来の空港税や宝くじ収入を担保に、GSは
数十億ドル(数千億円)の資金を提供、ギリシャは同資金を融資ではなく
為替取引として計上したため債務総額が不明瞭になった。

経緯
2000年
Ariadne:将来の宝くじ収入を担保にGSから借入。
     ユーロ、円、ドルの為替取引に見せかける。

2001年
ギリシャがEU通貨に参加
Aeolos:GSから数十億ドル借入。GSに約3億ドルの手数料支払い。
    為替取引に見せかける。
2005年
GSは国立ギリシャ銀行と金利スワップ取引。

2008年
Titlos:GSは国立ギリシャ銀行にスワップ取引で援助。

JPモルガンが伊の財政赤字を為替取引で助けた例を真似て、ギリシャは、
GSと組んだが、結局何もできず、赤字の膨らみを隠蔽するしかなかった
ようだ。伊は、現在、JPモルガンへの支払いで四苦八苦。
ひきづられて、ユーロが急落し続ける。
ギリシャの債務不履行発表の時期に注目が集まるようだ。
国家財政を修正できる民間金融機関は、大きすぎだろう。
色々な面で影響がありすぎだと思う。

GSソースコード窃盗を告発


Did Wall Street bail out Greece?

---ギリシャ債務隠しか ロイター報道「米銀が加担」---
2010年2月16日 夕刊
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/economics/news/CK2010021602000241.html

 【ロンドン=松井学】ギリシャが米ウォール街の投資銀行の手助けで債務を隠していた疑いが浮上、これを受け、欧州連合(EU)の財務相らが集まるユーログループのユンケル議長(ルクセンブルク首相)は十五日、「詳細を今月中に説明するよう同国に求めた」と明らかにした。ロイター通信が伝えた。
 問題を指摘したのは米紙ニューヨーク・タイムズ。それによると、ギリシャは今後見込まれる空港税や宝くじ収益を担保にしてデリバティブ(金融派生商品)取引にかかわり、財政赤字を穴埋めしていた。
 報道によると、ギリシャはこの資金を為替取引などで得たように見せ掛け、財政赤字額がはっきりわからないようにした。取引は二〇〇〇年以降の一定期間続き、投資銀行のうち大手のゴールドマン・サックスはギリシャに数十億ドル(数千億円)を融通、〇一年の取引だけで約三億ドルの手数料を稼いだという。
 ギリシャは〇一年にユーロに加盟、財政赤字を国内総生産(GDP)比で3%以内というEU財政基準内に収める必要が生じた。財政の統計手法も不正確だったことが発覚している。
 債務隠し問題に対し、同国のパパコンスタンティヌ財務相は十五日、ユーロ圏財務相会合を前に「当時は合法的な取引だった」と釈明、詳細については言及を避けた。


---ゴールドマン、ギリシャの債務隠しに加担か 米紙報道---
http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/kaigai/20100216ATGM1502R15022010.html

 米紙ニューヨーク・タイムズは15日までに米金融大手ゴールドマン・サックス(GS)が金融取引を通じて、ギリシャの債務隠しに加担していたと報じた。将来の空港税や宝くじ収入を担保に、GSは数十億ドル(数千億円)の資金を提供、ギリシャは同資金を融資ではなく為替取引として計上したため債務総額が不明瞭(めいりょう)になったと同紙は伝えている。
 報道によると、ギリシャは2000年に将来の宝くじ収入を、01年には将来の空港税収入をそれぞれGSに引き渡すことを約束し、見返りに多額の現金を受け取った。資金はその年の財政赤字を補てんするのに使われ、GSは01年の取引だけで約3億ドルの手数料を手にしたという。(01:19)


---Greece’s Goldman Sachs Swaps Spawn EU Dispute on Disclosure---
February 15, 2010, 11:47 PM EST
By Elisa Martinuzzi and Gavin Finch
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-15/greece-s-goldman-sachs-swaps-spawn-eu-dispute-on-disclosure.html

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A dispute is unfolding about how long European Union officials have known that Greece used derivatives to conceal its growing budget deficit.

Greece turned to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2002, just after adopting the euro, to get $1 billion in funding through a swap on $10 billion of debt, Christoforos Sardelis, head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency at the time, said in an interview last week. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, was aware of the plan, he said. Risk Magazine also reported on the swap in July 2003.

“Eurostat was not until recently aware of this alleged currency swap transaction made by Greece,” spokesman Johan Wullt said by e-mail yesterday.

The disagreement about who knew what and when comes amid the worst crisis in the euro’s 11-year history. The existence of the swaps, which allowed Greece to delay payments and shrink its reported budget deficit, is fueling questions about whether Greece used the contracts to mask the fact it was struggling to comply with the currency’s membership criteria from the early days of its entry into the eurozone.

“Greece falsified deficit statistics, and that can’t be legal,” said Wolfgang Gerke, president of the Bavarian Center of Finance in Munich and honorary professor at the European School of Business. “Greece needs to be kicked out of the EU because otherwise there will be new copycats, and that could lead to the next catastrophe on financial markets.”

EU regulators pressed Greece yesterday to disclose details of currency swaps after an inquiry by the country’s finance ministry uncovered a series of agreements with banks that it may have used to conceal mounting debt.

Legal ‘At the Time’

One issue is whether Greece was legally obliged at the time to notify Eurostat. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said yesterday the use of swaps was “at the time legal.” The contracts are now no longer legal, and Greece doesn’t use them, he said during a question-and-answer session at a conference in Brussels yesterday.

Eurostat has required information about swaps since 2007, Wullt said. The watchdog doesn’t need to be notified of individual deals, he added.

“It is legitimate if the underlying exchange rates and the interest rates of such swaps are calculated from the observed market rates and this is something we will have to assess,” European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said yesterday.

EU regulators have blessed the use of derivatives contracts to let countries curb their deficits. In 2001, the Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, approved Italy’s use of derivatives that helped to reduce its budget deficit in 1997. Italy swapped fixed payments on a three-year, yen-denominated bond in 1996, for a floating rate, allowing it to temporarily cut the amount of interest paid on the debt.

‘Lurking in the Shadows’

European politicians this week criticized New York-based Goldman Sachs for arranging the Greek swap and are pressing for more disclosure. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats aim to push for new rules that will force euro-region nations and banks to disclose bond swaps that have an impact on public finances, financial affairs spokesman Michael Meister said yesterday.

“Goldman Sachs broke the spirit of the Maastricht Treaty, though it is not certain it broke the law,” Meister said in an interview yesterday. “What is certain is that we must never leave this kind of thing lurking in the shadows again.”

Joanna Carss, a London-based spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, declined to comment.

Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker said euro-area finance ministers discussed Goldman Sachs’s and Greece’s use of derivatives on the fringes of a meeting yesterday in Brussels.

Cross-Currency Swap

The Goldman Sachs transaction consisted of a cross-currency swap of about $10 billion of debt issued by Greece in dollars and yen, Sardelis said. That was swapped into euros using a historical exchange rate, a mechanism that implied a reduction in debt and generated about $1 billion of funding, he added. Sardelis declined to give specifics on by how much the swap reduced the country’s reported deficit or debt.

Greece, whose burgeoning budget deficit caused it to fail the criteria for joining the single European currency in 1999, joined the euro in 2001. Member nations must keep deficits at less than 3 percent of gross domestic product and trim national debt to less than 60 percent of GDP under the pact.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who came to power in October, more than tripled the country’s 2009 deficit estimate to 12.7 percent, and officials last month pledged to provide more reliable statistics after the EU complained of “severe irregularities” in the nation’s economic data.

--With assistance from Jonathan Stearns and James G. Neuger in Brussels, Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg and Aaron Kirchfeld in Frankfurt. Editors: Edward Evans, Alec McCabe.

---Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis---
By LOUISE STORY, LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
Published: February 13, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?scp=1&sq=goldman%20sachs%20greece&st=cse

Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.

As worries over Greece rattle world markets, records and interviews show that with Wall Street’s help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels.

Even as the crisis was nearing the flashpoint, banks were searching for ways to help Greece forestall the day of reckoning. In early November - three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety - a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting.

The bankers, led by Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn, held out a financing instrument that would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards.

It had worked before. In 2001, just after Greece was admitted to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped the government quietly borrow billions, people familiar with the transaction said. That deal, hidden from public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means.

Athens did not pursue the latest Goldman proposal, but with Greece groaning under the weight of its debts and with its richer neighbors vowing to come to its aid, the deals over the last decade are raising questions about Wall Street’s role in the world’s latest financial drama.

As in the American subprime crisis and the implosion of the American International Group, financial derivatives played a role in the run-up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere.

In dozens of deals across the Continent, banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books. Greece, for example, traded away the rights to airport fees and lottery proceeds in years to come.

Critics say that such deals, because they are not recorded as loans, mislead investors and regulators about the depth of a country’s liabilities.

Some of the Greek deals were named after figures in Greek mythology. One of them, for instance, was called Aeolos, after the god of the winds.

The crisis in Greece poses the most significant challenge yet to Europe’s common currency, the euro, and the Continent’s goal of economic unity. The country is, in the argot of banking, too big to be allowed to fail. Greece owes the world $300 billion, and major banks are on the hook for much of that debt. A default would reverberate around the globe.

A spokeswoman for the Greek finance ministry said the government had met with many banks in recent months and had not committed to any bank’s offers. All debt financings “are conducted in an effort of transparency,” she said. Goldman and JPMorgan declined to comment.

While Wall Street’s handiwork in Europe has received little attention on this side of the Atlantic, it has been sharply criticized in Greece and in magazines like Der Spiegel in Germany.

“Politicians want to pass the ball forward, and if a banker can show them a way to pass a problem to the future, they will fall for it,” said Gikas A. Hardouvelis, an economist and former government official who helped write a recent report on Greece’s accounting policies.

Wall Street did not create Europe’s debt problem. But bankers enabled Greece and others to borrow beyond their means, in deals that were perfectly legal. Few rules govern how nations can borrow the money they need for expenses like the military and health care. The market for sovereign debt - the Wall Street term for loans to governments - is as unfettered as it is vast.

“If a government wants to cheat, it can cheat,” said Garry Schinasi, a veteran of the International Monetary Fund’s capital markets surveillance unit, which monitors vulnerability in global capital markets.

Banks eagerly exploited what was, for them, a highly lucrative symbiosis with free-spending governments. While Greece did not take advantage of Goldman’s proposal in November 2009, it had paid the bank about $300 million in fees for arranging the 2001 transaction, according to several bankers familiar with the deal.

Such derivatives, which are not openly documented or disclosed, add to the uncertainty over how deep the troubles go in Greece and which other governments might have used similar off-balance sheet accounting.

The tide of fear is now washing over other economically troubled countries on the periphery of Europe, making it more expensive for Italy, Spain and Portugal to borrow.

For all the benefits of uniting Europe with one currency, the birth of the euro came with an original sin: countries like Italy and Greece entered the monetary union with bigger deficits than the ones permitted under the treaty that created the currency. Rather than raise taxes or reduce spending, however, these governments artificially reduced their deficits with derivatives.

Derivatives do not have to be sinister. The 2001 transaction involved a type of derivative known as a swap. One such instrument, called an interest-rate swap, can help companies and countries cope with swings in their borrowing costs by exchanging fixed-rate payments for floating-rate ones, or vice versa. Another kind, a currency swap, can minimize the impact of volatile foreign exchange rates.

But with the help of JPMorgan, Italy was able to do more than that. Despite persistently high deficits, a 1996 derivative helped bring Italy’s budget into line by swapping currency with JPMorgan at a favorable exchange rate, effectively putting more money in the government’s hands. In return, Italy committed to future payments that were not booked as liabilities.

“Derivatives are a very useful instrument,” said Gustavo Piga, an economics professor who wrote a report for the Council on Foreign Relations on the Italian transaction. “They just become bad if they’re used to window-dress accounts.”

In Greece, the financial wizardry went even further. In what amounted to a garage sale on a national scale, Greek officials essentially mortgaged the country’s airports and highways to raise much-needed money.

Aeolos, a legal entity created in 2001, helped Greece reduce the debt on its balance sheet that year. As part of the deal, Greece got cash upfront in return for pledging future landing fees at the country’s airports. A similar deal in 2000 called Ariadne devoured the revenue that the government collected from its national lottery. Greece, however, classified those transactions as sales, not loans, despite doubts by many critics.

These kinds of deals have been controversial within government circles for years. As far back as 2000, European finance ministers fiercely debated whether derivative deals used for creative accounting should be disclosed.

The answer was no. But in 2002, accounting disclosure was required for many entities like Aeolos and Ariadne that did not appear on nations’ balance sheets, prompting governments to restate such deals as loans rather than sales.

Still, as recently as 2008, Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, reported that “in a number of instances, the observed securitization operations seem to have been purportedly designed to achieve a given accounting result, irrespective of the economic merit of the operation.”

While such accounting gimmicks may be beneficial in the short run, over time they can prove disastrous.

George Alogoskoufis, who became Greece’s finance minister in a political party shift after the Goldman deal, criticized the transaction in the Parliament in 2005. The deal, Mr. Alogoskoufis argued, would saddle the government with big payments to Goldman until 2019.

Mr. Alogoskoufis, who stepped down a year ago, said in an e-mail message last week that Goldman later agreed to reconfigure the deal “to restore its good will with the republic.” He said the new design was better for Greece than the old one.

In 2005, Goldman sold the interest rate swap to the National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest bank, according to two people briefed on the transaction.

In 2008, Goldman helped the bank put the swap into a legal entity called Titlos. But the bank retained the bonds that Titlos issued, according to Dealogic, a financial research firm, for use as collateral to borrow even more from the European Central Bank.

Edward Manchester, a senior vice president at the Moody’s credit rating agency, said the deal would ultimately be a money-loser for Greece because of its long-term payment obligations.

Referring to the Titlos swap with the government of Greece, he said: “This swap is always going to be unprofitable for the Greek government.”

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