debt

Brazilian real notesBrazilian officials are accustomed to shrugging off the country’s debt levels by comparing them with those of much more heavily indebted Europe.

Although this misses the point – Brazil’s public debt is more burdensome than in most other countries because it has some of the highest interest rates in the world – the argument is doubly wrong if a new study by Moody’s is to be believed. Read more

By John-Paul Rathbone and Andres Schipani

Socialist Venezuela would never sell out its friends to Wall Street, right? Yet it appears that is exactly what Caracas wants to do. Pressed by the oil price collapse, rattled by fears of default, facing rising social tension as imports collapse due to lack of foreign exchange, and seemingly unable to put its economic house in order, the country is trying to raise desperately-needed cash by selling debts owed to it by the Dominican Republic and Jamaica on to Goldman Sachs. Chavismo turns to the vampire squid?

The idea has been circulating for a while in the investment banking community. But now details have emerged in the press, as reported by El Nuevo Herald, and Petroleum Argos. Essentially, the trade involves Venezuela securitizing debts owed under its $3.5bn a year subsidised oil program, called PetrocaribeRead more

When oil prices fall, it’s a fair bet that Venezuela’s economy will suffer. After all, that has been the case every time oil prices have fallen in the past. When Venezuela’s official gazette then publishes a legal notice on October 10 saying that its oil-for-loans scheme with China had been tweaked, it is also a fair bet that this would be taken as a sign of Venezuelan economic distress and maybe even a default on loans from its closest ally, China. That is how beyondbrics and many others understood it. How wrong one can be — sort of. Read more

By Arturo Porzecanski of American University

José Antonio Ocampo, a former United Nations official and co-president with Prof. Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue, which promotes the adoption of heterodox economic policies in developing countries, recently wrote a guest post welcoming a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the launch of negotiations on a multilateral framework for sovereign debt restructuring. The resolution was Argentina’s initiative and it passed with the backing of a coalition of developing countries (the so-called G-77 plus China) in the wake of, as Ocampo put it, “the absurd decisions of a New York judge on Argentine debt.” Read more

Argentina’s debt default at the end of last month might have been expected to plunge emerging markets into a new paroxysm of panic. But the saga has for the most part been brushed off by fixed income fund managers.

True, prices of Argentine bonds have fallen, but not by very much. An issue due in 2033 actually gained slightly last week to close on Friday at 84 cents on the dollar, down from 96 cents two weeks ago but well above its 2014 low of 65 cents, let alone the 20-30 cents in the dollar level to where defaulted Latin American paper might have been expected to sink.

What’s more, demand for new high yield Latin American paper continues to surgeRead more

Argentina’s national motto is En unión y libertad (In Union and Liberty). Should it, perhaps, consider changing it to Sui Generis?

Having found a variety of ways throughout its history to break new ground in macroeconomic and sovereign debt mismanagement, Buenos Aires this week may be forced into a new one.

 Read more

Kenya is extending a $600m syndicated loan due for repayment on Thursday by three months, following an eleventh-hour agreement after weeks of prevarication.

A Treasury official said negotiations with the three international banks underwriting the loan – Citigroup, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered – were concluded only on Tuesday, two days before the repayment date. Read more

It’s official. Jaiprakash Associates, the Indian energy and infrastructure conglomerate, has sold off two hydroelectric plants in northern India.

The last time one of the group’s subsidiaries did something similar, its shares rallied on hopes that the move would bring down the group’s debts. But this time the stock has tanked because of signs the plants may have been sold too cheaply. Read more

Investors in Ukrainian bonds have heaved a collective sigh of relief over the past few days – or, if not that, they have at least moved further away from the threat of default, if the recent retraction in bond yields and CDS spreads is any guide. But even in the darkest days of last week when Ukrainian yields soared to panic levels, investors could have taken one grain of comfort. Things, after all, could have been worse: they could have invested in Venezuela. Read more

Ukrainian bonds are rallying strongly on Monday as investors digest the weekend’s dramatic events. Short term bonds issued by the sovereign and by Naftogas, the state gas company, have recovered from their recent panic levels.

But is there so much for investors to cheer about? Read more

Finance Minister Uros Cufer

Slovenia is set to join a regional rush to the bond markets as it seeks to borrow €3.5bn, equivalent to around 10 per cent of its annual GDP, this year. The government announced that it would raise the cash largely through “long-term borrowing through issuing sovereign bonds”, with some short-term local notes also likely to be issued.

The statement raised the possibility of using the funds to help finance a €4.8bn bank bailout announced in December, which includes a €3.2bn recapitalisation programme. The government is confident that this can be met without resorting to an international bailout of the sort that has placed severe strictures on other eurozone countries such as Greece and Portugal. Read more

Tapping bond markets is something of a trend for many African countries in the past year, including Gabon this month with a $1.5bn 10-year eurobond priced to yield 6.375 per cent.

But selling long-term debt is proving a hard game in east Africa, despite the presumable attractions of political stability and a favourable business environment. Interest costs for government securities are high, with long-term instruments maintaining yields of about 10 per cent or more, creating a growing concern for central banks. Read more

Sitting comfortably?

No surprise about the way financial markets reacted to Tuesday’s Ukraine-Russia tie-up. With the chances of a default before the 2015 elections reduced effectively to zero, bond yields and the price of credit default swaps plummeted (see charts below).

Looks like bond holders can look forward to a long-running game of chicken. Read more

Gabon joined the year’s rostrum of sovereign African eurobond issuers on Thursday with a 10 year “soft bullet” issue of $1.5bn priced to yield 6.375 per cent.

It follows comparable landmark issues over the past 15 months from Zambia, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana. So how does it stack up? Read more

An interesting take on the 1997 Asia crisis from Carmen Reinhart, known for her influential (before it was corrected) paper on the relation between growth and debt, and Takeshi Tashiro.

A new research paper from the two economists this week argues that Asia still hasn’t recovered from 1997 in one key regard: investment is still pitifully low, from India to South Korea. Read more