The rumors are true: Judge Thomas Griesa has announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the Argentine vulture fund negotiations, so cue up Vitamin C and break out the Fernet. The 85-year-old judge confirmed his despedida Monday night when one of his aides asked him if the rumors were true. That aide is presumably on photocopier duty this morning until the end of time.
His announcement adds fuel to the speculations that the vulture funds fiasco might one day come to an end. Or proves that Griesa’s just had it. At a standstill under former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose stance can be described as “Hell to the No,” negotiations over the payment of the sovereign debt began anew under President Mauricio Macri. Last week, the government offered to pay US$6.5 billion of the asked US$9 billion debt, a move lauded by US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for its show of “good faith.” We have yet to see if all of the holdout creditors agree to the sum and if the Argentine Congress goes forth with the motion.
For those of you who only pay rapt attention to the articles about Burger Joint (meeeee), here’s a refresher on those pesky vulture funds. In 2001 Argentina defaulted on about US$95 billion in international debt, part of which was bought out for a fraction of its value by a collective of creditors led by NML Capital. They refused Argentina’s offer to pay a restructured debt for which the country would have paid 30 cents on the dollar because, nota bene, the entire point of these holdout creditors is that they buy out foreign debt on the cheap and then demand full repayment. Hence: vultures. Judge Griesa ruled that Argentina could not pay back other creditors who have accepted the restructured terms until it paid NML Capital.
Judge Griesa has sat on the bench for over 40 years after being appointed by US President Richard Nixon. Yes that’s how long he’s been around. This last case will mark the end of a career that included many notorious trials ranging from the New York crime families to Mick Jagger. Griesa said that he plans to retire to his home in Montana to write his memoir,
They Cried Because of Me, Argentina which many have speculated will lift the lid on the vulture funds case. Just living the dream, Tom.