Venezuelan Daily Brief

Published in association with The DVA Group and The Selinger Group, the Venezuelan Daily Brief provides bi-weekly summaries of key news items affecting bulk commodities and the general business environment in Venezuela.

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 05th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Debt service is smothering the economy
According to Caracas daily TAL CUAL, the Chavez-Giordani model will end in total failure. Although proponents of new indebtedness claim Venezuela has one of the lowest debt/GDP ratios in Latin America, the publication says nationalizations have generated unprecedented fiscal deficits, which have overwhelmed and distorted state finances. According to economist Alejandro Grisanti, of Barclays Capital, Venezuela has 17 outstanding bond issues, of which 15 were placed during the past 12 years, for a total of U$D 31.3 billion. They generate yearly interest payments of U$D 3 billion. In addition, since 2007 PDVSA has issued 8 bonds for U$D 18.5 billion, and yearly interest payments of U$D 1.5 billion. More information in Spanish. (Tal Cual, 08-03-2011; and El Nacional;

The public sector absorbed 60% of the 2031 bond; JP Morgan terms it “unattractive
As some analysts expected, most of the 2031 Sovereign Bonds went to the public sector. Minister of Planning and Finance, Jorge Giordani, reports that 60% of the issue was taken by government entities. Of the U$D 4.2 billion issued, U$D 2,520 million are in the hands of official entities. Further, although specifications indicated 40% (U$D 1.68 billion) were earmarked for priorities in health, food and capital goods, only 33% went to these areas, according to a detailed note of the ministerial portfolio. JP Morgan has reported that the newly issued 2031 Sovereign Bond is not "too attractive" to the market despite its high yield since it seems designed to meet the import demands. More information in Spanish. (Tal Cual; 08-04-2011; and El Nacional; 08-04-2011;

Venezuela's annual inflation tops 25%
Venezuelan officials say the country's annual inflation rate has risen to 25.1%. The Central Bank and the National Statistics Institute record a 2.7% rise in prices during July. That's up from the annualized rate of 23.6% in June. Food prices rose especially quickly, increasing 4.8% last month alone. The oil-exporting country has consistently had Latin America's highest inflation in recent years. Prices rose 27.2% during 2010. (Forbes, 08-04-2011;

BCV president considers inflation troublesome
Nelson Merentes, the president of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), acknowledged on Thursday that inflation continues being the country's problem. Accumulated inflation in seven months totals 16% and it is expected to end 2011 at 23%-25%. "It is a problem to turn three decades around. All of us should focus our creative capabilities, our work and our knowledge and try to find a way to reach one digit in the short term, in two or three years at the very latest". (El Universal, 08-04-2011;

Jaua admits that the U.S. recession will affect Venezuela, but not as much as before
Venezuela's government admits that recession in the U.S. economy affects this country, but not as much as before, due to a policy that has become independent of the "bankrupt" U.S. Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua says "Venezuela has spent twelve years separating itself from that ship" and the crisis has "an effect on us ... but we are not dependent on funding and on the failed banks in the United States". He adds that this "allows you to navigate through a crisis with some comfort, without resorting to layoffs, or regressive policies in social rights." More information in Spanish. (El Mundo, 08-03-2011;

Economist expects only partial enforcement of the new Cost-Price Law
Economist José Guerra says enforcement of the new Law on Fair Costs and Prices could bring the Venezuelan economy to a standstill. He adds “my impression is that the law will be implemented only partially. If the law is implemented as it is, the economy will be paralyzed" (El Universal, 08-04-2011;

World Bank tribunal dismisses BRANDES case against Venezuela
An international arbitration panel dismissed a claim by BRANDES Investment Partners against Venezuela seeking damages for the forced sale of its stock in the nationalization of the country’s phone company. CANTV. The panel sided with Venezuela, saying it lacked jurisdiction to resolve the dispute, and put an end to a case filed in 2008.  (Bloomberg, 08-03-2011; and Noticiero Digital, 08-03-2011;


PDVSA commits almost 350,000 bpd of oil yearly to China
Eulogio del Pino, Exploration and Production Vice-President for the state-owned oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) says Venezuela is supplying around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and byproducts to China under agreements for the repayment of the Chinese Fund. (El Universal, 08-04-2011;

Oil shipments to Iran, Belarus and Portugal increased drastically in 2010
The latest yearly management report by state-run Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) shows it provided Portugal, Iran and Belarus around 88,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and byproducts during 2010. No further details as to individual destination were provided. This was an exponential increase in volume for last year, as compared to 5,000 bpd annually in 2008 and 2009. (El Universal, 08-03-2011;

Venezuela increased oil dispatches to the United States during the last week of July PDVSA was shipping 882,000 barrels a day, up 65.1% from the previous month, according to a report from the US Department of Energy. Venezuelan imports average around one million barrels a day so far this year, 900,000 of which correspond exclusively to oil and the remaining 100,000 barrels to by-products. (Veneconomy, 08-04-2011;

Fire affects operations at Venezuela oil dock
A fire affected operations on Thursday at one of Venezuela's main docks used for shipping petroleum byproducts like coke and sulfur from the state oil company PDVSA, a union representative told Reuters. Many of the oil terminals in the South American OPEC nation suffer frequent disruptions because of poor maintenance, hurting oil industry exports. (Reuters, 08-04-2011;

CVG BAUXILUM production in the hands of GLENCORE through 2018
According to Correo del Caroni newspaper, GLENCORE will advance U$D 120 million in installments in exchange for 1 million 380 thousand tons of alumina, to be delivered from 2014 to 2018. This is 69% of the plant’s annual installed capacity. In 2009, the company signed a similar contract with GLENCORE, engaging part of its production until 2013. According to José Luis Morocoima, Secretary General of SUTRALIMINA, the Aluminium Workers Union, the multinational company will make a first installment of U$D 40 million in order to solve production problems. More information in Spanish. (Correo del Caroni, 08-04-2011;; La Patilla, 08-04-2011;

ALCASA in danger of collapsing
ALCASA President, Elio Sayago, says that due to "ineffective financial bureaucracy" the nation’s largest aluminum company – which belongs to State-owned Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana - is in a fragile state "despite funds for raw materials and requirements provided by the Government." As a consequence of delays in allocating emergency funds operating costs rose due to the absence of fluoride and other chemicals needed to maintain the operational cells. "This puts us in danger of an operational collapse." More information in Spanish. (Tal Cual; 08-04-2011;


Chávez to call Santos over FARC issues
President Hugo Chávez said he will cal Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos over statements by the commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, Edgar Cely, about the presence in Venezuela of members of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. "I asked my staff to call President Santos because I want to talk to him." He noted that the Colombian government has clarified Cely's statements on the alleged presence of FARC and ELN guerrillas in Venezuelan territory. (El Universal, 08-03-2011;

Santos says some are interested in damaging ties with Venezuela
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says that "many enemies" want to damage relations between Colombia and Venezuela, but added that "mutual trust" prevails. The Colombian leader would not name the sectors trying to torpedo bilateral relationships, but says that "we began a sort of process of restoring mutual confidence with President Chavez" AP reported. (El Universal, 08-02-2011;

Analyst believes we could be on the brink of a serious diplomatic impasse
Economist and Carabobo University Professor José Ignacio Díaz Retali believes the situation could arise if Chávez government accepts Libya’s request to take over its oil production in order to have access to funds sanctioned since February 2011. He added the consequences for Venezuela could even affect its internal economy. (Veneconomy, 08-03-2011;

Morales say Chavez's illness delays debate on new OAS without the U.S.
Bolivian President Evo Morales says “there is a continental issue: A new OAS without the United States, without the North. Regrettably, this debate has been postponed due to the health problems of comrade Chavez". Morales say meetings are pending in the region to discuss this issue and expressed concern over possible effects on developing countries' “unpayable debts". More information in Spanish. (El Mundo, 08-05-011;

Venezuela: After Hugo, an analysis by Walter Molano of BCP Securities
In 1989, a Category 5 hurricane ripped through parts of the Caribbean and the south of the United States, killing 56 people and causing $10 billion in damages. The storm, called Hugo, left an indelible mark on the Gulf Coast. In the same way, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is leaving a permanent scar on Latin America. Venezuela was once the star of Latin America. In the early 1990s, the government privatized state-owned companies, allowing them to issue IPOs and Eurobonds. Eschewed by the investment community, thanks to the radical policies of the Bolivarian tyrant, Venezuela became one of the favorite destinations for the high beta investor—willing to take a punt regardless of the underlying risk in order to boost their returns. On paper, Venezuela has some of the best credit metrics in Latin America. Therefore, it is no surprise that some investors are lured by Venezuela’s siren song. However, there is more than meets the eye. (Latin Business Chronicle, 08-04-2011;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

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