Argentina has seen plenty of courtroom drama over the past few years as the government evades its creditors by filing one appeals case after another. Now the drama has begun to bleed into comedy. One creditor, a New York-based hedge fund, has refused to accept Argentina’s take-it-or-leave-it offer of 33 cents on the dollar from its 2001 default. It is attempting instead to seize Argentine assets, such as a training ship off the coast of Ghana. Now the company is trying to block Argentina from launching satellites into space. The WSJ reports:
NML Capital Ltd, a unit of Elliott Management Corp., has sued Argentina and satellite-launch company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., claiming it is entitled to seize two launch contracts purchased by Argentina to satisfy court awards. […]According to the lawsuit filed in a California District Court on Tuesday, Argentina bought two contracts for satellite launches in 2015 and 2016 from SpaceX, as the satellite-launch company is known. The contracts are commercial property that aren’t protected by sovereign immunity laws and can be seized to settle the $1.7 billion the hedge fund has been awarded by a New York federal court, NML’s attorneys argued.
Kirchner’s government has been throwing tantrums for a while now about sovereignty, fairness and the wickedness of “vulture funds.” No doubt it has its sympathizers both at home and abroad. But Argentina yet again finds itself toeing the cliff of default, watching capital flee and getting shut out of international credit markets. With a decades-long pattern of crises, blaming the evil hedge funds for your latest near-collapse will only take it so far.