South America

Relations between the United States and China promise to be fraught even under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. There’s one area where the two rivals can and should cooperate immediately, however: to head off a looming debt crisis that threatens to hurl millions into poverty across Africa, Latin America and Asia. When many of the world’s poorest countries last found themselves unable to service their debts 25 years ago, the U.S. led a global effort — the 1996 Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative — to forgive much of that debt.

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Global Debt to Hit $200 Trillion

Global debt is set to reach $200 trillion, or 265% of the world’s annual economic output, by the end of the year, S&P Global has forecast - although it doesn’t expect a crisis any time soon, Reuters reported. The credit ratings giant said it amounted to a 14-point rise as a percentage of world GDP, having been amplified by both the economic plunge caused by COVID and the extra borrowing that governments, firms and households have had to resort to. “Global debt-to-GDP has been trending up for many years; the pandemic simply exacerbated the rise,” S&P’s report said.

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Negotiations between the International Monetary Fund and Argentina over a new IMF loan program are “very fluid and constructive,” with Argentine officials expected to come to Washington in the coming days for more talks, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday, Reuters reported. Rice told a regular news briefing that a recent IMF staff mission to Buenos Aires, made “good progress” in defining the initial elements of Argentina’s economic reform plans.

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Argentine officials will travel to the United States on Thursday to meet with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the country renegotiates already-disbursed loans of about $44 billion, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The fund said at the end of November that it had begun to outline, together with Argentina, a new program to help the government face the country’s profound economic and social challenges, which have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Brazil’s government will pardon about half of the roughly 14 billion reais ($2.6 billion) in debt owed to it by Brazilian telecom firm Oi SA, the country’s solicitor general said on Friday, Reuters reported. Oi, which has been working to emerge from bankruptcy protection for years, had accumulated gargantuan fines tied to quality of services and other regulatory demands, making telecoms regulator Anatel one of the company’s biggest creditors. The settlement, with the remainder of Oi’s government debt payable in installments, puts an end to 1,700 ongoing court cases between Oi and Anatel, sa

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Airlines are on course to lose a total $157 billion this year and next, their main global body warned on Tuesday, further downgrading its industry outlook in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections and shutdowns afflicting major markets, Reuters reported. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which in June had forecast $100 billion in losses for the two-year period, said it now projects a $118.5 billion deficit this year alone, and a further $38.7 billion for 2021.

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The trio of coronavirus vaccines racing toward approval may reach the masses too late to prevent another round of airline failures, Bloomberg News reported. With last week’s insolvency filing at Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, some 42 airlines worldwide have failed or entered administration this year, according to research from consultant IBA Group. The tally may surpass 70 through March, as rising cases weigh on revenue and carriers struggle to secure fresh funding. “The fourth quarter and the first quarter of next year could be equally terrible,” IBA’s Stuart Hatcher said in an interview.

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Suriname’s government has asked creditors for a payment deferral on its two bonds, which total $675 million in size, in what analysts said could be a prelude to a broader debt restructuring, Reuters reported. The government of the South American nation announced the launch of a consent solicitation for its two bonds, due in 2023 and 2026, in a statement on Saturday. The consent solicitation expires on Nov. 23. The move had been expected after Suriname said late last month that it wanted to make use of a 30-day grace period on its dollar-bond coupon payments due on Oct.

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Argentina’s Chubut Province said on Saturday it had struck a debt deal in principle with a majority of its creditors after a successful sovereign debt restructuring earlier this year opened the door for local governments to resolve their regional crises, Reuters reported. Chubut and its bondholders will restructure $680 million in bonds originally set to mature in 2026, exchanging them for bonds due in July 2030, the province said in a statement.

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Argentina hiked interest rates on Thursday after monthly inflation accelerated to the highest level this year, a move aimed at bolstering peso savings and reining in prices amid a wider economic crisis, Reuters reported. The central bank raised the benchmark Leliq rate to 38% from 36% previously after the country’s statistics agency had revealed October inflation speeding up to 3.8% and rolling 12-month inflation had been clocked at 37.2% in the month. The central bank also raised overnight and 7-day reverse repo rates.

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