Suggestions that Argentina's creditor banks were willing to press ahead with a debt deal without waiting for the International Monetary Fund met with suspicion among local banking analysts.
However, they conceded speedy talks would be in the banks' interest, given that a temporary rollover in April on $2.5 billion in debt maturities expires at the end of this month.Some of Argentina's biggest creditor banks were keen to avoid declaring the debts "non-performing" loans on their third quarter accounts, analysts said.
Even so, a report saying the 11-bank working committee leading Argentina's 320 foreign bank creditors was prepared to reach a deal before the IMF was generally discounted in local banking circles as talks got under way.
"That's just not going to happen," emphasized one long-term overseas banking representative. The source, who declined to be named, added: "We like the IMF...like (Peruvian President) Alan Garcia says, they're our police. Let's not kid ourselves."
Instead, the banker noted, Argentina also seems keen to conclude the talks as quickly as possible. He suspected the claim that the committee of sending out signals" was a government ploy to bring pressure on reluctant banks.
More plausible was the belief that talks would go ahead simultaneously with both the IMF and the banks. This seems to be what the government wants anyway.
The Argentine team that flew to the United States this week includes both central bank President Jose Luis Machinea, who will talk with the IMF and Treasury Secretary Mario Brodersohn, the chief representatives to the banks.
Simultaneous talks would be feasible providing the IMF was able to inform the banks progress was being made in standby negotiations, and one banker thought that likely.
Argentina shouldn't have problems with the IMF" after taking measures to rein in an inflationary upsurge, and talks should be smooth," he forecast. That didn't mean it is going to be a cakewalk" or that the government would secure the standby it wants.
That said, the source warned, getting new money out of the banking committee would be altogether more difficult" because banks already were weighing Mexico's $12 billion request.
That is another reason why Argentina should push negotiations, the banker explained. They know Mexico is going to be a nightmare," he said.
The government also seemed aware Mr. Machinea's appointment to the central bank and other recent steps had helped restore creditor confidence on the outlook for the economy, he added.