March 25, 2012
Italy Exposure to Derivatives
It was nothing more than a footnote in the Morgan Stanley financials; a $3.4 billion pay-out by Italy to settle a derivatives contract made in 1994. Say goodbye to 50% of the tax hikes imposed by the Monti government because that is what was wiped out by this payment. It is also interesting to note that that Mario Draghi, currently President of the European Central Bank, was the Director-General of the Italian Treasury when this derivative was formulated. Then comes the bomb, only mentioned in a brief article on Bloomberg, and not noted anywhere in the Press. Marco Rossi Doria, an undersecretary in Monti’s administration, tasked with responding to a parliamentary interrogation on derivatives, admitted that the Italian Treasury had $211 billion in "notional" exposure to derivatives, which is around eleven percent (11%) of Italy’s total GDP. This new exposure now brings Italy’s actual debt to GDP ratio to a whopping 144.3%.
Expect further corrections of Monti's government in the following months, the ransack of Italy to cover derivatives contracts is likely to continue for years.