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Venezuela’s Debt Blackhole

Venezuela’s Debt Blackhole
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Álvaro Martín

Álvaro Martín

Estudiante de economía internacional. Defensor del libre mercado desde que tengo uso de razón. Una sola frase para cambiar el mundo: "Laissez faire". Autor de "IN DEFENSE OF FREEDOM", prologado por Daniel Lacalle, a la venta en Amazon y en la tienda online del Club de los Viernes.
Álvaro Martín

Últimas entradas de Álvaro Martín (ver todo)

Economists and analysts all around the world knew that one-day Venezuela’s inflationary bomb will have to explode, having tremendous effects for its people but just giving more argument for the regime authoritarian policies. Venezuelan bonds have been indicating for a long time through its market signals that bankruptcy was near and nobody could save this economy, which has entered in an eternal spiral of debt, hyperinflation and secular stagnation. Until now, the inefficiently directed and over-intervened PDVSA supported the government with funds coming from oil revenue, but with the extremely low oil prices registered during these last two years, this has ended up drowning the communist policies promoted by Maduro, as socialism is always a success, until other people’s money ends up. Maduro claims this week wanting to renegotiate and restructure their debt obligations, which sum up to 105 billion dollars, which presents negotiations as complex, as no country will be willing to lend money to a chaotic State as Venezuela, where stability and growth are just past myths.

Maduro has already organised meetings in Caracas the 13 of November to discuss about debt refinancing; invitation which has already been declined by the US. But this story comes from long ago, as US government sanctions prevent any investment firm or individual from buying new debt from Venezuela with maturities longer than 30 days, or up to 90 days in the case of corporate bonds from PDVSA.  The state oil company has announced that they will exchange old defaulted bonds for new ones through a process of debt restructuring, which has the same effect as substituting an iPad for a piece of wood. Trump has declared himself against changing the rules which apply to trade with Maduro, and for now he has proposed several new restrictions of capital circulation between Venezuela and the US.

Another widely discussed option has been that if Venezuela enters total bankruptcy it could just stop paying its debts, which will be extremely harmful for PDVSA which has foreign properties and equity in its stock. If a default is committed by the government, those assets might be seized by creditors. This final point will harm deeply the Venezuelan economy, as it has a dependency of nearly 90% of its revenue directly correlated with the functioning of PDVSA. It was announced that the government will negotiate the refinancing of the debt, but Maduro at the same time said that he will direct 1.2 billion dollars for the payment of corporate bonds from PDVSA which will be maturing proximately. The purpose of this last injection of funds into PDVSA is to make some money reach the creditors and give credibility to Maduro’s new crazy project. Let’s bet, but many of us think that the greatest part of those funds won’t finally reach creditors but stay in some bank accounts of those who don’t have to follow a rationing schedule. Of course, if Venezuela commits a complete default, these 1.2 billion dollars will be of tremendous utility to PDVSA, and some even interpret that default will just be committed over government sovereign debt but corporate debt of public enterprises will still be paid at maturity of bonds, to prevent shrinking the Venezuelan economy even more, if that’s possible.

We could expect anything from the Venezuelan tyrannical government. Venezuela is trying to use up all possible grace periods, but still hasn’t committed a complete default, as even its bonds are trading at a great discount, they are still not in the normal range where debt tends to be defaulted, as bonds are still at 20 to 30 cents on the dollar. Those prices should be much lower if it wasn’t for the market analysis of Venezuelan fundamentals, as we have to take into account that it is still the country with the largest oil reserves, and if the government and its policies were shifted towards greater openness and free market oriented purposes this debt could probably be blown off in a few years though austerity policies.

What has caused this disaster hasn’t been the low price of oil, but because of socialist policies applied to reality, as no other OPEC member has entered bankruptcy in the last decade. The communist regime has turned the Venezuelan economy upside down, and in PDVSA they have caused a contraction in production volume of more than 20%, even though they hired 175,000 new workers, which were friends of the regime and had no relation to the world of oil extraction and refinery.

Socialism has shown its true face in Venezuela, and has reminded us once more that there can’t be political or civil liberties without economic freedom. We should promote free markets and international trade, to create greater levels of wealth through specialization, and consequently rise living standards of all citizens. Just let entrepreneurship free and results will come.

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