Today, Yahoo reported on the Ukrainian's parliament decree to stiff their creditors by $3.8 billion, defaulting on that debt. By propaganda, the report calls this default, "a restructuring agreement...[to keep Ukraine]...from falling into an unmanaged default." Elsewhere in the story, the writer refers to the default as a "20-percent debt write-down". Even the headline is pure propaganda — "Ukraine parliament backs crucial debt write-off deal."
The action by the Ukrainian Parliament is typical of lawgivers. They have no respect for property — the right of ownership — in this case the property collecting debt in full over time, or that, which we all call credit.
And people wonder why economies go bad and they live through hard times. Most live by superstition, believing in a slew of myths as to why economies go bad. Almost always, they accept stories by politicians who blame businessmen. In reality, it's lawgivers who devise the rules and who change the rules by which people trade their property while in pursuit of profit.
If you owed Mary $100 and paid only $80 back, you stiffed Mary of $20, or 20%. You defaulted on the deal made with Mary for $100.
In your mind, you might believe Mary is lucky to get even $80. However, Mary banked on getting $100 from you. Now, her life changes to the worse because she trusted you and you stiffed her.
If you owned Sally and Suzy $100, owing Sally $80 and Suzy $20, and you paid Sally 100% and Suzy 0%, you still defaulted, but only to Suzy. The net effect is the same as if you only owed Mary.
Paying Sally in full keeps you in good standing with Sally. However, as in the Mary example, you have harmed Suzy. Sally should be wary of you for her own sake going forward. So too should anyone else you approach to enter into credit relationships.
Can you imagine if it were this easy for you, that every time you borrowed on credit cards, home equity lines of credit and the like and if you were to find yourself with weaker cash flow, you could force your creditors into bargining what you would call a "write down" but which is in fact, you defaulting on your deal?