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Officials from the financing bodies may have headed to the Caucasus late this week for a possible emergency bailout, but they are also deeply concerned about some Latin American oil-producing countries. The list includes Brazil, now mired in its worst recession in more than a century, Ecuador, which has been mending ties with the Fund as its economy shrinks, and even Venezuela, where the IMF last set foot about a decade ago. But it is Venezuela’s dire economic crisis that has spurred default fears as the government, and state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), are running out of money to pay debts as crude prices continue to crash. (The country even owes $3m in annual contributions to the United Nations.) Analysts believe Venezuela can make good on some $2.4bn due next month, which will take every cent of its oil sales for January and February, but according to Barclays a “credit event” is on the cardsunless oil prices miraculously recover. Things are not looking good. While embattled President Nicolás Maduro has been unable to lure fellow Opec members to convene an emergency meeting to ramp up prices, Venezuela’s oil basket, which trades at a discount to global benchmarks because of its higher content of heavy oil, is trading at around $20 per barrel. Experts believe a Venezuelan default may spark a nasty Argentina-style battle with holdout creditors. Read more