Argentina's Broken Bonds

Oct 1, 2002

Italian retail investor's love affair with Argentine bonds ended abruptly when the sovereign left its creditors in the lurch. Angry Italians want someone to compensate them for their losses.

When Giacinto Innocenzi retired last year after 40 years' of work, he went to his bank in Rome to get advice on how to invest and manage his money. His daughter's wedding was approaching and he and his wife planned to help their daughter and her future husband buy a house together. Innocenzi held 60 million lire ($32,000) in Italian government bonds maturing June 2001 and had a healthy savings account. His trusted bank advisor told him that he could nearly double his return if he used the money to buy Argentine sovereign bonds. "I had never invested in anything but Italian government bonds," says Innocenzi. "But my banker advised me against investing in Italian government bonds, which only had 3%-4% interest. Instead he told me to buy Argentine bonds and that they had the same risk as Italian bonds." Today, Innocenzi is holding $94,300 of worthless Argentine...

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