More Investors Betting on BP Default

Could the oil giant actually declare bankruptcy?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Credit investors see an increasing possibility of a BP default. The oil giant's credit rating was downgraded Tuesday, while credit default swaps on the company rise ever higher. Here are business bloggers' reactions to BP's slipping market support.

  • 'The Market Is Seriously Concerned,' summarizes Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal, pointing to credit-default swaps suggesting the market believes "BP has 40% chance of default." He thinks that investors' concern was "screamingly obvious already."
  • Why the Market Is Concerned  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains that credit default swaps "take stock of the likelihood that a bond won't be paid in full," and they've gone from 7% to 39% in a single month. The reason isn't "the direct cost of clean-up, which analysts put around $3 billion," but "the economic damages, or liabilities, to third party businesses, individuals and natural resources, which could run many billions higher." The president's speech highlighted possible costs for the company, while many on Capitol Hill are looking to get rid of a 1990-legislated liability cap of $75 million, making BP pay more.
  • Unusual Ratings Downgrade "You rarely see a downgrade to the tune of six full notches," observes 24/7 Wall St.'s Jon Ogg. He lists the reasons for the downgrade, and points to one possible path forward:
The biggest issue here now is that the credit default swap rates have continued to widen out.  It is highly unlikely that pensions and investment managers are as eager to buy BP debt as before, but if Fitch lowers its rating again and if suddenly BP finds itself officially listed as a Junk Bond by any of the 3 ratings agencies then its pool of debt buyers will suddenly become much more limited by investment policy mandates.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.