Argentina defaults

So much for the strategy of preventing a foreign sovereign from defaulting through claiming sovereignty over its bonds:

At the stroke of midnight last night, Argentina officially defaulted on $29 billion worth of debt. It was the eighth time in its history, and the second time in 13 years, that Argentina told its foreign creditors it would not pay its bills.

But this time was different, and rather bizarre. When Argentina last defaulted, in 2001, it had roughly $80 billion worth of debt it couldn’t pay back. It was, at the time, the biggest sovereign-debt default ever. This time, Argentina—Latin America’s third- or fourth-largest economy, depending on who you’re asking—had the money on hand to pay a $539-million bill due by close of business on Wednesday. It didn’t make the payment, and as a result has now technically defaulted on the entire $29 billion it owes international creditors.

The defaults are still pretty small. But a fair amount of new credit will have to be issued to make up for that $29 billion contraction.