In finance, default is failure to meet the legal obligations (or conditions) of a loan,for example when a home buyer fails to make a mortgage payment, or when a corporation or government fails to pay a bond which has reached maturity. A national or sovereign default is the failure or refusal of a government to repay its national debt.
Finance is a field that is concerned with the allocation (investment) of assets and liabilities over space and time, often under conditions of risk or uncertainty. Finance can also be defined as the art of money management. Participants in the market aim to price assets based on their risk level, fundamental value, and their expected rate of return. Finance can be split into three sub-categories: public finance, corporate finance and personal finance.
A loan covenant is a condition in a commercial loan or bond issue that requires the borrower to fulfill certain conditions or which forbids the borrower from undertaking certain actions, or which possibly restricts certain activities to circumstances when other conditions are met.
A mortgage loan or, simply, mortgage is used either by purchasers of real property to raise funds to buy real estate, or alternatively by existing property owners to raise funds for any purpose, while putting a lien on the property being mortgaged. The loan is "secured" on the borrower's property through a process known as mortgage origination. This means that a legal mechanism is put into place which allows the lender to take possession and sell the secured property to pay off the loan in the event the borrower defaults on the loan or otherwise fails to abide by its terms. The word mortgage is derived from a Law French term used in Britain in the Middle Ages meaning "death pledge" and refers to the pledge ending (dying) when either the obligation is fulfilled or the property is taken through foreclosure. A mortgage can also be described as "a borrower giving consideration in the form of a collateral for a benefit (loan)".
The biggest private default in history is Lehman Brothers, with over $600 billion when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The biggest sovereign default is Greece, with $138 billion in March 2012.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was a global financial services firm. Before filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States, doing business in investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales and trading, research, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Lehman was operational for 158 years from its founding in 1850 until 2008.
The term "default" should be distinguished from the terms "insolvency ", illiquidity and "bankruptcy":
Insolvency is the state of being unable to pay the money owed, by a person or company, on time; those in a state of insolvency are said to be insolvent. There are two forms: cash-flow insolvency and balance-sheet insolvency.
Bankruptcy is a legal status of a person or other entity who cannot repay debts to creditors. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.
In accounting, liquidity is a measure of the ability of a debtor to pay their debts as and when they fall due. It is usually expressed as a ratio or a percentage of current liabilities. Liquidity is the ability to pay short-term obligations.
Default can be of two types: debt services default and technical default. Debt service default occurs when the borrower has not made a scheduled payment of interest or principal. Technical default occurs when an affirmative or a negative covenant is violated.
Affirmative covenants are clauses in debt contracts that require firms to maintain certain levels of capital or financial ratios. The most commonly violated restrictions in affirmative covenants are tangible net worth, working capital/short term liquidity, and debt service coverage.
Working capital is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organisation or other entity, including governmental entities. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is considered a part of operating capital. Gross working capital is equal to current assets. Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. If current assets are less than current liabilities, an entity has a working capital deficiency, also called a working capital deficit.
Negative covenants are clauses in debt contracts that limit or prohibit corporate actions (e.g. sale of assets, payment of dividends) that could impair the position of creditors. Negative covenants may be continuous or incurrence-based. Violations of negative covenants are rare compared to violations of affirmative covenants.
With most debt (including corporate debt, mortgages and bank loans) a covenant is included in the debt contract which states that the total amount owed becomes immediately payable on the first instance of a default of payment. Generally, if the debtor defaults on any debt to the lender, a cross default covenant in the debt contract states that that particular debt is also in default.
In corporate finance, upon an uncured default, the holders of the debt will usually initiate proceedings (file a petition of involuntary bankruptcy) to foreclose on any collateral securing the debt. Even if the debt is not secured by collateral, debt holders may still sue for bankruptcy, to ensure that the corporation's assets are used to repay the debt.
There are several financial models for analyzing default risk, such as the Jarrow-Turnbull model, Edward Altman's Z-score model, or the structural model of default by Robert C. Merton (Merton Model).
Sovereign borrowers such as nation-states generally are not subject to bankruptcy courts in their own jurisdiction, and thus may be able to default without legal consequences. One example is Greece, which defaulted on an IMF loan in 2015. In such cases, the defaulting country and the creditor are more likely to renegotiate the interest rate, length of the loan, or the principal payments.In the 1998 Russian financial crisis, Russia defaulted on its internal debt (GKOs), but did not default on its external Eurobonds. As part of the Argentine economic crisis in 2002, Argentina defaulted on $1 billion of debt owed to the World Bank.
In times of acute insolvency crises, it can be advisable for regulators and lenders to preemptively engineer the methodic restructuring of a nation's public debt—also called "orderly default" or "controlled default".Experts who favor this approach to solve a national debt crisis typically argue that a delay in organising an orderly default would wind up hurting lenders and neighboring countries even more.
When a debtor chooses to default on a loan, despite being able to service it (make payments), this is said to be a strategic default. This is most commonly done for nonrecourse loans, where the creditor cannot make other claims on the debtor; a common example is a situation of negative equity on a mortgage loan in common law jurisdictions such as the United States, which is in general non-recourse. In this latter case, default is colloquially called "jingle mail"—the debtor stops making payments and mails the keys to the creditor, generally a bank.
Sovereign borrowers such as nation-states can also choose to default on a loan, even if they are capable of making the payments. In 2008, Ecuador's president Rafael Correa strategically defaulted on a national debt interest payment, stating that he considered the debt "immoral and illegitimate".
Consumer default frequently occurs in rent or mortgage payments, consumer credit, or utility payments. A European Union wide analysis identified certain risk groups, such as single households, being unemployed (even after correcting for the significant impact of having a low income), being young (especially being younger than around 50 years old, with somewhat different results for the New Member States, where the elderly were more often at risk as well), being unable to rely on social networks, etc. Even internet illiteracy has been associated with increased default, potentially caused by these households being less likely to find their way to the social benefits they are often entitled to. While effective non-legal debt counseling is usually the preferred -more economic and less disruptive- option, consumer default can end-up in legal debt settlement or consumer bankruptcy procedures, the last ranging from 1-year procedures in the UK to 6-year procedures in Germany.
Research in the United States has found that pre-purchase counseling can significantly reduce the rate of defaults.
Debt is when something, usually money, is owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future, which is what differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The debt may be owed by sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. Commercial debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a "debt of gratitude" to the second person.
Debt consolidation is a form of debt refinancing that entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. This commonly refers to a personal finance process of individuals addressing high consumer debt but occasionally refers to a country's fiscal approach to corporate debt or Government debt. The process can secure a lower overall interest rate to the entire debt load and provide the convenience of servicing only one loan.
A credit risk is the risk of default on a debt that may arise from a borrower failing to make required payments. In the first resort, the risk is that of the lender and includes lost principal and interest, disruption to cash flows, and increased collection costs. The loss may be complete or partial. In an efficient market, higher levels of credit risk will be associated with higher borrowing costs. Because of this, measures of borrowing costs such as yield spreads can be used to infer credit risk levels based on assessments by market participants.
Debt restructuring is a process that allows a private or public company, or a sovereign entity facing cash flow problems and financial distress to reduce and renegotiate its delinquent debts to improve or restore liquidity so that it can continue its operations.
A debtor is an entity that owes a debt to another entity. The entity may be an individual, a firm, a government, a company or other legal person. The counterparty is called a creditor. When the counterpart of this debt arrangement is a bank, the debtor is more often referred to as a borrower.
In finance, unsecured debt refers to any type of debt or general obligation that is not protected by a guarantor, or collateralized by a lien on specific assets of the borrower in the case of a bankruptcy or liquidation or failure to meet the terms for repayment. That differs from secured debt such as a mortgage, which is backed by a piece of real estate.
Credit is the trust which allows one party to provide money or resources to another party wherein the second party does not reimburse the first party immediately, but promises either to repay or return those resources at a later date. In other words, credit is a method of making reciprocity formal, legally enforceable, and extensible to a large group of unrelated people.
A security interest is a legal right granted by a debtor to a creditor over the debtor's property which enables the creditor to have recourse to the property if the debtor defaults in making payment or otherwise performing the secured obligations. One of the most common examples of a security interest is a mortgage: When person, by the action of an expressed conveyance, pledges by a promise to pay a certain sum of money, with certain conditions, on a said date or dates for a said period, that action on the page with wet ink applied on the part of the one wishing the exchange creates the original funds and negotiable Instrument. That action of pledging conveys a promise binding upon the mortgagee which creates a face value upon the Instrument of the amount of currency being asked for in exchange. It is therein in good faith offered to the Bank in exchange for local currency from the Bank to buy a house. The particular country's Bank Acts usually requires the Banks to deliver such fund bearing negotiable instruments to the Countries Main Bank such as is the case in Canada. This creates a security interest in the land the house sits on for the Bank and they file a caveat at land titles on the house as evidence of that security interest. If the mortgagee fails to pay defaulting in his promise to repay the exchange, the bank then applies to the court to for-close on your property to eventually sell the house and apply the proceeds to the outstanding exchange.
In England and Wales, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal alternative for individuals wishing to avoid bankruptcy.
Debt settlement, also known as debt arbitration, debt negotiation or credit settlement, is an approach to debt reduction in which the debtor and creditor agree on a reduced balance that will be regarded as payment in full. During a negotiation period, all payments by the debtor are made to the debt settlement company, which typically withholds payments to the creditors, even if the debtor has paid a lump sum or made payments. Once all the debtor's accounts are in default due to this non-payment, the debt settlement company has leverage to force the debtor to accept a reduced lump sum payment as settlement. The debtor's credit rating goes down significantly due to the default, especially if the debtor was not behind on payments before the negotiation period commenced. Even though the accounts are "settled," the default appears on the debtor's credit record for seven years. Nevertheless, some debtors prefer this method of debt reduction over bankruptcy.
A secured loan is a loan in which the borrower pledges some asset as collateral for the loan, which then becomes a secured debt owed to the creditor who gives the loan. The debt is thus secured against the collateral, and if the borrower defaults, the creditor takes possession of the asset used as collateral and may sell it to regain some or all of the amount originally loaned to the borrower. An example is the foreclosure of a home. From the creditor's perspective, that is a category of debt in which a lender has been granted a portion of the bundle of rights to specified property. If the sale of the collateral does not raise enough money to pay off the debt, the creditor can often obtain a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the remaining amount.
Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay their creditors. In most cases personal bankruptcy is initiated by the bankrupt individual. Bankruptcy is a legal process that discharges most debts, but has the disadvantage of making it more difficult for an individual to borrow in the future. To avoid the negative impacts of personal bankruptcy, individuals in debt have a number of bankruptcy alternatives.
Subordination in banking and finance refers to the order of priorities in claims for ownership or interest in various assets.
A sovereign default is the failure or refusal of the government of a sovereign state to pay back its debt in full. Cessation of due payments may either be accompanied by formal declaration (repudiation) of a government not to pay its debts, or it may be unannounced. A credit rating agency will take into account in its gradings capital, interest, extraneous and procedural defaults, failures to abide by the terms of bonds or other debt instruments. Countries have at times escaped the real burden of some of their debt through inflation. This is not "default" in the usual sense because the debt is honored, albeit with currency of lesser real value. Sometimes governments devalue their currency. This can be done by printing more money to apply toward their own debts, or by ending or altering the convertibility of their currencies into precious metals or foreign currency at fixed rates. Harder to quantify than an interest or capital default, this often is defined as an extraneous or procedural default (breach) of terms of the contracts or other instruments.
A cram down or cramdown is the involuntary imposition by a court of a reorganization plan over the objection of some classes of creditors.
Financial law is the law and regulation of the insurance, derivatives, commercial banking, capital markets and investment management sectors. Understanding Financial law is crucial to appreciating the creation and formation of banking and financial regulation, as well as the legal framework for finance generally. Financial law forms a substantial portion of commercial law, and notably a substantial proportion of the global economy, and legal billables are dependent on sound and clear legal policy pertaining to financial transactions. Understanding the legal implications of transactions and structures such as an indemnity, or overdraft is crucial to appreciating their effect in financial transactions. This is the core of Financial law. Thus, Financial law draws a narrower distinction than commercial or corporate law by focusing primarily on financial transactions, the financial market, and its participants; for example, the sale of goods may be part of commercial law but is not financial law. Financial law may be understood as being formed of three overarching methods, or pillars of law formation and categorised into five transaction silos which form the various financial positions prevalent in finance.
Argentina will continue to default on $1bn of debt owed to the World Bank, a move which will effectively isolate the country from all major international lenders.