Because of a lack of easy access and liquidity, and the size of investment that is required, it is not easy to invest in Greek government bonds. The only ways to invest in them are to purchase them directly through a bank or brokerage firm or to invest in a hedge fund that has significant holdings in Greek government bonds.
However, according to some analysts, if you're willing to go to the trouble required to obtain Greek bonds, and you have the necessary investment capital and a very high risk tolerance, they may well prove to be a worthwhile investment. For example, investors who braved an investment in Greek bonds just prior to the restructuring of Greek debt in 2012 saw an average 80% return on their investments in just a little over six months. Overall since the 2012 debt restructuring, returns on Greek government debt are over 200%, according to the Bloomberg Greece Sovereign Bond Index.
The Risk Is Considerable
Investing in Greek government bonds is only appropriate for the most financially sound and speculative investors with an extremely high tolerance for risk. The risk of default for Greek bonds is rated at 75%. An investment in Greek debt is essentially about as far from a sure thing as you can possibly get. There is a very real possibility of losing every dime of a minimum $100,000+ investment. Therefore, only investors who can afford to lose that kind of money should even consider looking at Greek debt as a possible investment.
The Argument for Positive Returns
The arguments for an investment in Greek debt paying off handsomely are essentially twofold. The first is a belief that the Greek economy and Greek government won't simply totally collapse and default on every obligation imaginable across the board. While that's not a given, advocates for investing in Greek debt make the argument that such a catastrophic total collapse is not really among the likely possibilities and that the total doomsayers are being overly pessimistic. Greece is in a financial mess, but it's such a mess that at this point that about the only direction left may be one of upward improvement. This has led a handful of long-term investment analysts to recommend the purchase of Greek 30-year bonds.
The second linchpin of the argument for investing in Greek debt is the fact that, thanks to its 2012 debt restructuring, other than its current bond obligations, the Greek government has no other significant debt obligations until 2023. This was the argument put forward by JP Morgan Chase when, in 2014, it recommended the purchase of five-year Greek bonds, due to mature in 2019, long before that 2023 date.
How to Acquire Greek Bonds
There are really only a couple of avenues open for purchasing Greek bonds. There are no Greek bond ETFs currently available. There are a couple of hedge funds, such as Dan Loeb's Third Point, that have made significant investments in Greek debt, but those don't represent an investment purely in Greek bonds. Basically, the only options for purchasing Greek bonds are going through a bank or brokerage firm, and either option requires a minimum investment of over $100,000.
Most of the major banks, such as JP Morgan or Citibank, can purchase Greek bonds for an investor. However, because of the very low liquidity in the market, the minimum purchase required is 100,000 euros, a bit more than $100,000.
The other option is to go through a brokerage such as Fidelity or Charles Schwab. Greek bonds aren't listed as available investments on their websites, but you can contact a broker specializing in foreign bonds to make the purchase on your behalf. Again, a minimum $100,000+ investment is required, and because of the extremely low liquidity in the market, the broker cannot guarantee to manage a favorable purchase price.