South America

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For years, the bolivar drifted toward irrelevancy as Venezuelans embraced the economic stability brought on by the widespread use of the U.S. dollar, Bloomberg News reported. But the Socialist regime, always reluctant to fully turn its economy over to the dollar, is now making a surprise bid to revive the local currency. Emboldened by surging oil exports that are fueling economic growth and helping keep the foreign-exchange rate steady, the government is pushing Venezuelans to use the bolivar more by slapping a 3% tax on purchases made with dollars in shops, restaurants and grocery stores.
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Argentine economy minister Martin Guzman said late on Friday that a $45 billion debt deal with the International Monetary Fund will not be modified, following a meeting with IMF head Kristalina Georgieva, Reuters reported. "We are not going to change the goals of the program with the IMF," Guzman told local media. The South American country's center-left Peronist government led by President Alberto Fernandez struck a staff-level agreement with the international lender at the beginning of March to avoid a default.
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Creditors of Brazilian miner Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture of Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd, on Monday rejected the debt restructuring plan presented by the company in an online creditors assembly, Reuters reported. Creditors are expected to present an alternative plan for the debt restructuring within 30 days. Representatives of 99.3% of unsecured credits rejected the plan, while smaller creditors in different classes voted favorable to the company's plan.
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Argentina’s inflation rate galloped to its fastest pace in March since 2002, challenging a strategy by the government’s to cool prices that already lacked support from within the ruling coalition, Bloomberg News reported. Consumer prices rose 6.7% last month compared to February, the highest level since Argentina was in one of its worst economic crises 20 years ago. Inflation reached 55.1% from a year ago, the highest annual level of President Alberto Fernandez’s presidency and most since June 2019. Both results were above all forecasts among economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
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Peru’s foreign debt has touched record lows as a wave of social unrest amid quickening inflation upends a market once famed for its resilience to near-perpetual political crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Government bonds due in 2031 have tumbled 5.5 cents since early last week to trade at 89 cents on the dollar on Tuesday, lingering near an all-time low. The extra yield investors demand to hold Peru’s bonds over U.S. Treasuries, meantime, is at 194 basis points, versus just 165 a week prior, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. data.
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Chile's President Gabriel Boric announced on Thursday a $3.7 billion economic recovery plan that includes a hike in the minimum wage, subsidies and financing for sectors of the economy still battling fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. Key goals of the plan, the president said, include creating 500,000 jobs and raising the current monthly minimum wage of 350,000 pesos ($434) to 400,000 pesos ($496) by the end of the year.
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Cuba is struggling to cover a fuel deficit as imports from Venezuela and other countries remain below historical levels and global prices boosted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine make purchases almost unaffordable, according to analysts and data, Reuters reported. The Caribbean country, which is dependent on fuel imports mostly from political ally Venezuela to cover more than half of its demand, is since last month dealing with diesel and gasoline shortages leading to long lines in front of stations.
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Argentina’s economy contracted in January as a surge in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant weighed on industrial manufacturing, Bloomberg News reported. Economic activity in January fell 0.5% from the prior month, better than analysts’ median estimate for a 1.0% contraction. From a year ago, the economy expanded 5.4% in the first month of the year, according to government data published Tuesday.
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Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said on Friday that the federal government plans to create a poverty eradication fund that would be fed from the sale of public assets, Reuters reported. Speaking at a presidential event, he mentioned plans of creating "Fundo Brasil," comprising 1 trillion reais ($210.51 billion) in real state assets and 1 trillion reais in shares of state-owned companies.
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