Bloomberg reports that when Morgan Stanley said in January it had cut its 'net exposure' to Italy by $3.4bn, it didn’t tell investors that the nation paid that entire amount to the bank to exit a bet on interest rates.
Italy, the second-most indebted nation in the European Union, paid the money to unwind derivative contracts from the 1990s that had backfired, said a person with direct knowledge of the Treasury’s payment.
It was cheaper for Italy to cancel the transactions rather than to renew, said the person, who declined to be identified because the terms were private.
The $3.4bn cost is equal to half the amount to be raised by Italy’s sales tax increase this year.
See the Bloomberg video above.