South America

Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro announced on Friday a single exchange rate pegged to his socialist government’s petro cryptocurrency, effectively devaluing by 96 percent in a move economists said would fan hyperinflation in the chaotic country, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. In one of the biggest economic overhauls of Maduro's five-year government, the former bus driver and union leader also said he would hike the minimum wage by over 3,000 percent, boost the corporate tax rate, and increase highly-subsidized gas prices in coming weeks.
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Venezuela’s debt crisis passed a new milestone as the government missed a principal payment on one of its bonds for the first time this week, boosting arrears on international securities to $6.1 billion, Bloomberg News reported. It was hardly a surprise for investors, who have watched the value of their securities plummet since President Nicolas Maduro announced in November that he would seek to restructure the country’s debt in the midst of an economic crisis.
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As Venezuela and its state-owned oil firm PDVSA lurch from crisis to crisis, defaulted creditors are jockeying for position to ensure they are among the first to receive cash when payday eventually comes, the Financial Times reported. The Opec country is essentially bankrupt and creditors are increasingly chasing its oil assets with their biggest target being Citgo, the Houston-based oil refiner that processes Venezuelan crude oil and is estimated to be worth roughly $4bn. Next in their sights is seizing Venezuelan oil cargoes at sea, as US hedge fund Elliott Management did with an Ar
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As Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA saw its finances devastated by low oil prices and mismanagement, it funnelled millions of dollars to Petrolera del Conosur, a loss-making Argentine gas station operator it controls, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. PDVSA decided to cut off the support payments late last year, according to a person familiar with Petrolera del Conosur's operations, as the once-proud icon of Venezuelan oil production struggled with declining output aggravated by a worsening economic crisis.
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Struggling to staunch a run on the peso that has helped drive the economy to the brink of recession, Argentina is aggressively pushing investors out of some of the local debt notes they hold, Bloomberg News reported. It is a risky gambit -- the opposite of the kind of measure a country would typically take at a moment of great financial duress.
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It’s pay day for $1.125 billion of Venezuelan sovereign bonds. But no one is expecting to get any money. After all, the bond in question is already in default due to a missed interest payment back in February, Bloomberg News reported. Why would Nicolas Maduro’s government fork over hundreds of millions of dollars it can’t afford to part with when the nation and its flagship oil company are already about $5 billion in the hole with creditors? The one new thing today is that this missed payment will mark the first default on government bond principal, rather than just interest payments.
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Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, on Monday sought to paint herself as the victim of a conspiracy in the face of bribery allegations that have unsettled markets and led to comparisons with the corruption inquiry that has shaken Brazil, the Financial Times reported. Ms Fernández de Kirchner called for the case to be abandoned in written testimony on the first day of her trial, and took to Twitter to denounce what she claimed was a conspiracy between Mauricio Macri, her successor, his media allies and Claudio Bonadio, the presiding judge.
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The corruption scandal that broke in Argentina last week could be a political godsend for President Mauricio Macri -- and an economic nightmare for the country. A federal judge is probing hundreds of alleged bribes paid by construction companies, energy suppliers and electricity generators to members of the former government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Bloomberg News reported. While the accusations may derail Fernandez’s hopes of a comeback, aiding Macri, they could also halt investment in a country already threatened with recession after a collapse in the peso.
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Argentine companies will sell at least $5 billion of overseas bonds by March, reopening a window that has been closed for the past three months amid economic volatility, according to the head of Itau Unibanco Holding SA’s international fixed-income unit, Bloomberg News reported. Between $3 billion and $4 billion will be sold by a group of firms recently awarded public-private contracts to build roads, while the remainder will come from blue-chip companies, according to Baruc Saez.
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The construction unit of Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA is seeking to win $18 billion in engineering contracts in the next two years and could partner with a strategic foreign investor, the unit’s chief executive, Fabio Januário, told Reuters. Januário said a foreign partner could help to reduce dependence on Brazil’s oil and gas sector, whose fortunes have swung sharply over the past decade with the price of crude oil, Reuters reported. “We are open to partners but it has to be someone who gives us that,” Januário said during an interview on Friday.
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