EU-IMF Bailout Borrowing Rates
This post was written by Karl Whelan
The NTMA have released a note explaining the interest rate associated with the bailout package. The average interest rate is 5.82% and the average maturity of the borrowings is 7.5 years.
The 5.82% is presented as being comprised of an average rate of 5.7% from the IMF and EFSM and 6.05% from the EFSF.
The statement leaves a few questions unanswered about the IMF and EU rates.
Regarding the IMF rate, the IMF’s statement on Sunday night said
At the current SDR interest rate, the average lending interest rate at the peak level of access under the arrangement (2,320 percent of quota) would be 3.12 percent during the first three years, and just under 4 percent after three years.
How do we get from a weighted average of 3.12% and 4% to the government’s figure of 5.7%? The answer appears to be related to the fact that the IMF lends in SDRs at a floating rate. From the NTMA statement:
The SDR comprises a basket of four currencies, Euro, Sterling, the US Dollar and Japanese Yen. The IMF’s SDR lending rate is based on the three month floating interest rates for the currencies in the basket. In the presentation of the financial support programme the interest cost on the IMF’s floating rate SDR lending is expressed as the equivalent rate when the funds are fully swapped into fixed rate Euro of 7.5 years duration.
Since both IMF and NTMA statements must be true, this suggests that the cost of swapping a floating rate SDR loan into a fixed rate Euro loan is somewhere between 170 and 258 basis points. That seems very high to me.
Regards the EFSM rate, the NTMA tell us that it “will be at a rate similar to the IMF funds, i.e. 5.7 per cent per annum.” But presumably the EFSM is lending in euros and so there was no need to undertake a very expensive swap exercise, so this deal factors in a profit margin for the EFSF that does not apply to the IMF loan.
Finally, the mystery that is the EFSF rate is revealed. 6.05%. Less than the 6.7% that was doing the rounds last week but more than the 5.7% that I had guessed a few weeks ago and still a pretty hefty rate.
I have to confess to having no idea how this 6.05% was arrived at. The EFSF FAQ states
fixed-rate loans are based upon the rates corresponding to swap rates for the relevant maturities. In addition there is a charge of 300 basis points for maturities up to three years and an extra 100 basis points per year for loans longer than three years. A one time service fee of 50 basis points is charged to cover operational costs.
So let’s plug in the numbers consistent with a seven year maturity. The seven year swap rate is 2.85%. Add 400 basis points for the profit margin and you’re at 6.85%. And this ignores the 50 basis point service fee which, if annualised over the term, would bring the rate up to 6.92%. Finally, this also ignores the following aspect of EFSF lending. From the framework agreement:
The Service Fee and the net present value of the anticipated Margin, together with such other amounts as EFSF decides to retain as an additional cash buffer, will be deducted from the cash amount remitted to Borrower in respect of each Loan (such that on the disbursement date (the “Disbursement Date”) the Borrower receives the net amount (the “Net Disbursement Amount”)) but shall not reduce the principal amount of such Loan that the Borrower is liable to repay and on which interest accrues under the relevant Loan.
This seems to mean that we are paying the service fee and margin up front. In addition, we are going to pay interest on a cash buffer, which is money kept by EFSF that we’ll never see.
So, two thoughts here. First, it seems likely that the government negotiated in the final days to get the “profit margin” aspect of the EFSF money down. Second, I wouldn’t be surprised if the true effective cost of this loan is understated by the 6.05% figure, for instance because it doesn’t include the up-front service fee or the role played by the cash buffer.
A full detailed explanation of the EFSF rate from either the Irish government or the EFSF would be very welcome.