Venezuela Turns to Its Secretive Bag of Tricks to Avoid Default

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In the wake of Goldman Sachs’s controversial purchase of $2.8 billion of bonds held in Venezuela’s vaults, investors have been trying to quickly figure out what other hidden assets the country might be sitting on. The stakes are high. As the central bank’s officially published foreign-reserve figure dwindles to just over $10 billion, that secretive stockpile might ultimately decide whether the nation averts default or not, Bloomberg News reported. Calculating the value of those securities, as you might expect, is tricky. Estimates range from $15.5 billion of assets that could be made liquid from perennial contrarian Francisco Rodriguez to as little as zero from Nomura Inc.’s Siobhan Morden. Barclays Plc landed in the middle, at about $10 billion. Adding to the complex calculations is speculation that Venezuela is going to have a tougher and tougher time finding buyers for these securities. After Goldman was loudly criticized in Venezuela and abroad for last month’s deal, Wall Street banks and investors are growing increasingly hesitant to finance a regime that’s routinely accused of human-rights violations and blamed for widespread shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities. Read more.