At present, the market is severely mispricing Greece’s sovereign risk relative to the country’s fundamentals. As a result of the mispricing, financial intermediation in Greece has become dysfunctional and the privatisation of state-owned assets has stalled. This mispricing is partially due to an illiquid and fragmented government yield curve. A well-designed public liability management exercise can lead to a more efficient pricing of Greece’s government bonds and thereby help restore stable and affordable financing for the country’s private sector, which is imperative in order to overcome Greece’s deep recession. This paper proposes three measures to enhance the functioning of the Greek government debt market: i) Greece should issue a new five-year bond, ii) it should consolidate the 20 individual series of government bonds into four liquid securities and iii) it should offer investors a swap of these newly created bonds into dollar-denominated securities. Each of these measures would be beneficial to the Hellenic Republic, since the government would be able to reduce the face value and the net present value of its debt stock. Furthermore, this exercise would facilitate the resumption of market access, which is a necessary condition for continuous multilateral disbursements to Greece.
Christian Kopf, CFA, is the London-based partner in charge of economic research and investment strategy at Spinnaker Capital, an Emerging Markets investment management firm. Miranda Xafa, PhD, is CEO of E.F. Consulting, an Athens-based advisory firm focusing on eurozone economic and financial issues.