South America

Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez said his government would stop paying interest on central bank notes if he wins this year’s elections, Bloomberg News reported. Fernandez would cease interest payments on notes known as Leliq, used to implement monetary policy, in order to raise retiree pensions by 20% once he takes office Dec. 10, according to an interview that aired Sunday. “We’re going to stop paying the interest on Leliqs that Argentines are paying for every day,” Fernandez told local outlet El Destape in an interview.

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After years of expropriations, hyperinflation, bankruptcies and financial collapse, what remains of Venezuela’s private sector might be forgiven for giving up hope, the Financial Times reported. But business people in Venezuela say the economic crisis in the South American nation has hastened moves by President Nicolás Maduro’s government away from the full-blooded socialism of his predecessor Hugo Chávez towards a freer market. “As business people we have wanted free prices and a free flow of dollars for many years,” one senior executive at a consumer goods said.

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President Jair Bolsonaro will give Brazilians early access this year to as much as 30 billion reais ($8 billion) in funds normally set aside for the unemployed in an effort to spur the country’s moribund economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. A measure announced Wednesday by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes will allow Brazilian workers, starting in September, to take up to 500 reais of the money currently reserved in accounts set up by law by employers for workers who lose their jobs.

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As negative yields engulf everything from Brazil’s state oil company to Hungarian sovereign debt to euro junk, investors are seeking refuge in high-yield bond ETFs, Bloomberg News reported. Europe-listed funds have attracted over 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) since January, more than in any full year going back to at least 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. The largest exchange-traded fund tracking the debt -- BlackRock Inc.’s 8.5 billion-euro IHYG -- took in 640 million euros in the week ended July 5, smashing a record it set just two weeks before, the data show.

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Loans to Venezuela from President Nicolas Maduro’s allies Russia and China would be renegotiated though the Paris Club if Maduro leaves power, an advisor to the opposition said on Wednesday, responding to concerns about favourable treatment for the two countries, Reuters reported. Ricardo Hausmann, who represents opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said Guaido’s team has not determined how loans might be restructured under its governance because bilateral debt talks typically take place under the auspices of the Paris Club creditor group.

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Brazilian telecom carrier Oi SA disclosed on Tuesday a new strategic plan aiming to divest up to 7.5 billion reais ($2 billion) in non-core assets and focus on its fiber-to-home (FTTH) broadband service, Reuters reported. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016 to restructure approximately 65 billion reais of debt, plans to sell towers, data centers, real estate assets, its Angolan subsidiary Unitel and other non-strategic assets between 2019 and 2021.

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Who Can Pay Venezuela’s Debts?

Venezuela, and its state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, have stopped making payments on a lot of their debts. Many of these debts are in the form of bonds governed by New York law, and so bondholders have sued Venezuela in U.S. courts asking for their money back, a Bloomberg View reported. This is not, in sovereign debt cases, a foolproof approach: The court can tell Venezuela to give them their money back, but it can’t make Venezuela do it; Venezuela is its own country and doesn’t have to listen to U.S. courts.

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A Brazilian appeals court judge has allowed bank creditors of Odebrecht SA to take possession of shares in petrochemical company Braskem SA pledged as collateral for loans they made to the corruption-ensnared conglomerate, according to a document seen by Reuters. The new injunction, granted on Wednesday in favor of Brazil’s largest lender, Itau Unibanco Holding SA, overturns a ruling banning any sale or possession of Braskem shares by banks, Reuters reported. State-controlled lender Banco do Brasil has filed a similar request.

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Creditors holding Venezuelan debt on Tuesday pushed back on debt restructuring plans backed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, urging a “fair and effective” framework for talks and improved communications with investors holding defaulted bonds, Bloomberg News reported. Creditors holding Venezuelan debt on Tuesday pushed back on debt restructuring plans backed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, urging a “fair and effective” framework for talks and improved communications with investors holding defaulted bonds.

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The perceived risk of Latin America’s largest economy has dropped to a five-year low as President Jair Bolsonaro’s proposed overhaul of the country’s pension system nears a key vote in Congress, Bloomberg News reported. The cost to insure Brazil’s debt against default for five years narrowed to as low as 138 basis points over comparable U.S. Treasuries Tuesday morning, the tightest since September 2014, three months before the onset of a crushing two-year recession in the country.

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