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Freitag, 23. Oktober 2015

MARKETSIs it finally crunch time in Venezuela?


MARKETSIs it finally crunch time in Venezuela?

Brazil is bracing for its worst recession in a quarter of a century. Investors are ramping up bets that Argentina will devalue its currency for the second time in two years. Given the shaky state of affairs in Latin America at the moment, it's easy to forget about the region's other problem child - Venezuela.
While the market has its attention focused on the growing political and economic crisis in Brazil and this Sunday's presidential election in Argentina, Venezuela's unravelling - the result of years of staggering mismanagement and crude price's collapse over the past 15 months - has picked up speed in recent weeks.
In one of the few statistics it still publishes, Venezuela's central bank this week revealed that the country's international reserves have sunk to a 12-year low of $15.35bn.
The news comes just as the South American country enters the high season for its bond repayments.
According to analysts at Barclays, Venezuela and its state-owned oil company, PDVSA face $5.1bn in maturing debt and interest payments over the next two months.
Heaping further pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro are import bills.
With parliamentary elections just around the corner in December, the government has a particular incentive to ramp up imports to address the chronic shortage of basic goods - anger and frustration over which have contributed to Mr Maduro's loss of popularity.
However, the problem is that of the $15.35bn Venezuela still has in reserves, less than $0.5bn are "liquid reserves". The rest, says Barclays, are in gold and borrowings from the IMF.
All of which means Venezuela could find itself in a $10bn hole this quarter. Barclays analysts said:
Therefore, assets besides reserves will need to be used. We estimate that disposable assets (in and out of reserves) are about $15.1bn. Assuming a gold repo of $3bn before year-end, the disposable assets could end the year at about $8bn.
While the bank expects Venezuela to be able to meet its debt obligations until at least the first quarter of 2016, others argue the risks of a default next year are growing.
While a $1.5bn bond maturing next February is trading at a decent 87 cents on the dollar, other bonds are trading at severely distressed levels.
The $1.6bn bond due in 2038 is trading at just 36.5 cents on the dollar, while prices for another bond that is due for repayment in 2025 have sunk to just 37 cents on the dollar.
Meanwhile, the country's currency - the bolivar fuerte - is anything but strong after losing 88 per cent of its value on the black market over the past year to trade near a record low, according to

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