October 11, 2016

FT, where’s the real hurdle? In PDVSA’s debt swap, or in PDVSA and Venezuela’s government?

Sir, Eric Platt and Jessica Dye write: “Analysts and bankers remain optimistic that a deal will be clinched, as a default would cut both Venezuela’s and PDVSA’s credit lines with lenders and deepen the country’s recession.” “PDVSA debt swap plan hits hurdle” October 11.

Really? Could it not be so that helping to finance one of the demonstratively most inept governments ever could only deepen and prolong a recession that, right after a huge oil boom, in a country that states it holds the largest oil reserves in the world, has its citizens starving and without access to medicines?

Venezuela is in utter disorder, and its people in utter despair, and still its government sells gas at less than US$ 4 cents a gallon, thereby allowing some to smuggle it out and make juicy profits. That, no matter how you look at it, is a de facto economic crime against humanity.

So “T Rowe Price owned $274m worth of the 2017 bonds”. Does T Rowe Price really think that its clients, though they might make huge speculative profits in the short term, are truly benefitted long term by financing an entity as mismanaged as T Rowe Price knows PDVSA is? Would T Rowe Price’s investors have liked it if Venezuelans had financed a PDUSA and thereby helped keep a hypothetical authoritarian regime in power? When is what is being financed going to be an issue? Or is it really that you can finance anything at all, as longs as the risk premiums are juicy?

Sir, to be clear, I am not writing this solely in “opposition” to the current Venezuela government. For decades, long before the Chavez years, I have been opposed to odious debts, odious credits and odious borrowings… anywhere.

PS. I am supposing no one would dare to expose such naiveté as arguing that lending to PDVSA is distinct from lending to the Venezuela government.

@PerKurowski ©