ZeroHedge’s new standard for publishing: “too good to check”

The hyperventilating ZeroHedge blog has got its mitts on what it calls a “smoking gun document”. The document purports to show that Greek PM George Papandreou turned down a twenty-billion-euro loan at favourable interest rates sometime back in February this year, and that this will somehow lead to Papandreou being forced to resign.

I reckon the document is a fake.

It doesn’t seem to bother ZeroHedge that “Hayman Private Equity” doesn’t turn up on Google (except for a couple of entries linked to commercial real estate investment). It doesn’t seem to bother them that the company’s listed email address goes to a domain owned by squatters. It doesn’t seem to bother them that a EUR-denominated loan’s being priced against LIBOR (the EUR equivalent is Euribor).

And they don’t seem to think it’s strange that a fund with US$30 billion to chuck around on loans (an amount that would make them easily one of the ten largest private equity groups in the world – so why has nobody ever heard of them?) would be run out of a serviced office. (The address and the fax number both match up with Regus’s serviced office facilities in Boston.)

For christ’s sake, it doesn’t even look legitimate. It looks like a bad MS Paint job. This is made of fail.

Update: Let’s be charitable to ZH for a moment and assume the documents are real. If they are, there’s one interesting possibility – it could be a Greek version of Australia’s Loans Affair of the mid-1970s.

In 1975, the government under Gough Whitlam tried to raise a ridiculously large amount of money (AUD$4 billion) to fund Australian mining development. But instead of tapping the bond markets like a non-crazy country, they went to some random commodities broker named Tirath Khemlani who claimed he could raise a chunk of Arab petrodollars – for a sizable fee, payable in advance.

Khemlani turned out to be a con-artist; the Whitlam government collapsed soon after when they lost control of the parliament.

Occam’s Razor says we’re still looking at a fake document. But hey, if ZeroHedge can speculate wildly on tenuous evidence, so can I.

Update update: The Papandreou papers are forgotten; now ZH is labeling France’s outright purchases of bonds “fascism”. What?

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