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Satellite Images Reveal Saudis May Be Lying How Much Oil They Have In Storage

November 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

A little over a year ago, specialized satellite imaging company Orbital Insight which uses its proprietary imaging and algorithms to track above-ground oil storage, confirmed something we had alleged earlier in the year: that China was vastly under-rep…

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Foreclosed $51 Million “Billionaire’s Row” Penthouse Sells At A 30% Discount

November 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Kola Aluko’s posh penthouse apartment in One57, one of Manhattan’s most expensive luxury towers, has finally sold after months of delays in what New York realtors agree is the most expensive residential foreclosure in city history.
The sale…

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America’s “Abject Servitude” Is Now Exposed

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

These are the poisoned fruits of a neofeudal system in which power, wealth and political influence are concentrated in the apex of the wealth-power pyramid.

Stripped of pretense, ours is a culture of rape. Apologists for the system that spawned this culture of rape claim that this violence is the work of a few scattered sociopaths. The apologists are wrong: The system generates a culture of rape.

The engine of our culture of rape is the elevation of the entitled-insider class to untouchability: they are above the law, and more equal than others in their freedom to impose every sick sociopathology known to humanity on the powerless peasants imprisoned in our noxious neofeudal system.

For the true sickness of our society and culture is measured not in the vile crimes of our entitled-insider class: it’s measured by the armies of enablers, protectors, enforcers and apologists who protect the entitled-insider class from exposure and justice. After 25 years of blatant abuse of power and crimes that have yet to enter the court docket, 25 years during which the cream of the American media purposefully ignored his blatant abuses of power, the moldering putrid remains of American journalism has finally emerged from its fetid nests, trembling in the unaccustomed brightness of day, to “report,” 25 years too late to save his innumerable victims, Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies (New Yorker).

You know how incestuous and cowardly our entitled-insider class is, and how they operate: for 25 long years, editors in the self-glorifying citadels of American journalism killed every story that would have exposed Mr. Weinstein’s actions to the world.

The same can be said of all the other predators hiding beneath the cloak of secrecy that protects the entitled-insider class from exposure.

Voracious predators like Bill Clinton mastered the fine art of forcing consensuality on their innumerable victims, considering the act of forced sex as little more than a standard perquisite of power, much like having the hotel door opened by servants.

The armies of spies, informers, PR flacks, security guards, attorneys, thugs, sycophants and handlers didn’t just enable predatory exploitation of the peasantry: they actively recruited victims and set them up, just as powerless maids were trapped in the chambers of lords in feudal times.

The truly sick reality of our culture of rape is that nobody involved reckoned they were doing anything wrong. The sociopathological predators reckoned they were simply exercising their droit du seigneur, their right to take any woman they desired as a privilege of belonging to the entitled-insider class.

Every single individual in the vast armies of spies, informers, PR flacks, security guards, attorneys, thugs, sycophants and handlers were simply doing their job, doing what they were told to avoid reprimand or being fired. In other words, every one of these individuals was a good German, pulling the trigger, defending predators from justice, protecting the most vile, sick abusers of power from exposure and attacking any victim who dared speak the truth, because, well, they were paid to do so.

Were there no other jobs in America other than protecting evil predators from exposure and justice? Or did these good Germans secretly revel in their proximity to power, much like the SS reveled in their proximity to Nazi power? All you good Germans who served your overlords so well: please don’t deny the thrill of being close to sociopathological power. Or were you just too afraid of losing your own pretty perquisites?

These are the poisoned fruits of a neofeudal system in which power, wealth and political influence are concentrated in the apex of the wealth-power pyramid, a system so corrupted that predators don’t just get off scot-free, they are celebrated as wunnerful guys because their abuses of power are so well hidden, their victims so well marginalized and their PR flacks so relentless in painting over the rotting flesh of their corruption.

While tens of thousands of men and women rot away in America’s teeming Drug War gulag, the exploiters and predators of our entitled-insider class are free to ruin and rape. It’s time we stop making excuses for the predators of our entitled-insider class, stop accepting the cover provided by the worm-ridden decaying corpse of our corporate media, and stop the armies of Good German executioners who have bludgeoned every attempt to expose the truth of our pervasive culture of rape, exploitation and pillage.

Our abject servitude is now exposed. We are peasants and debt-serfs imprisoned in a deeply corrupt and oppressive neofeudal society. Will we ever tire of worshiping our predatory entitled-insider class exploiters?

*  *  *

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Real Motive Behind Saudi Purge Emerges: $800 Billion In Confiscated Assets

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

From the very beginning, there was something off about Sunday’s unprecedented countercoup purge unleashed by Mohammad bin Salman on alleged political enemies, including some of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most powerful royals and government officials: it was just too brazen to be a simple “power consolidation” move; in fact most commentators were shocked by the sheer audacity, with one question outstanding: why take such a huge gamble? After all, there was little chatter of an imminent coup threat against either the senile Saudi King or the crown prince, MbS, and a crackdown of such proportions would only boost animosity against the current ruling royals further.

Things gradually started to make sense when it emerged that some $33 billion in oligarch net worth was “at risk” among just the 4 wealthiest arrested Saudis, which included the media-friendly prince Alwaleed.

One day later, a Reuters source reported that in a just as dramatic expansion of the original crackdown, bank accounts of over 1,200 individuals had been frozen, a number which was growing by the minute. Commenting on this land cashgrab, we rhetorically asked “So when could the confiscatory process end? As we jokingly suggested yesterday, the ruling Saudi royal family has realized that not only can it crush any potential dissent by arresting dozens of potential coup-plotters, it can also replenish the country’s foreign reserves, which in the past 3 years have declined by over $250 billion, by confiscating some or all of their generous wealth, which is in the tens if not hundreds of billions. If MbS continues going down the list, he just may recoup a substantial enough amount to what it makes a difference on the sovereign account.”

Then an article overnight from the WSJ confirmed that fundamentally, the purge may be nothing more than a forced extortion scheme, as the Saudi government – already suffering from soaring budget deficits, sliding oil revenues and plunging reserves – was “aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite.

As we reported yesterday, the WSJ writes that the country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.” But what is more notable, is that while we first suggested – jokingly – on Monday that the ulterior Saudi motive would be to simply “nationalize” the net worth of some of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest individuals, now the WSJ confirms that this is precisely the case, and what’s more notably is that the amount in question is absolutely staggering: nearly 2x Saudi Arabia’s total foreign reserves!

As the WSJ alleges, “the crackdown could also help replenish state coffers. The government has said that assets accumulated through corruption will become state property, and people familiar with the matter say the government estimates the value of assets it can reclaim at up to 3 trillion Saudi riyal, or $800 billion.”

While much of that money remains abroad – and invested in various assets from bonds to stocks to precious metals and real estate – which will complicate efforts to reclaim it, even a portion of that amount would help shore up Saudi Arabia’s finances.

A prolonged period of low oil prices forced the government to borrow money on the international bond market and to draw extensively from the country’s foreign reserves, which dropped from $730 billion at their peak in 2014 to $487.6 billion in August, the latest available government data.

Confirming our speculation was advisory firm Eurasia Group, which in a note said that the crown prince “needs cash to fund the government’s investment plans” adding that “It was becoming increasingly clear that additional revenue is needed to improve the economy’s performance. The government will also strike deals with businessmen and royals to avoid arrest, but only as part of a greater commitment to the local economy.”

Of course, there is a major danger that such a draconian cash grab would result in a violent blowback by everyone who has funds parked in the Kingdom. To assuage fears, Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce, Majid al Qasabi, on Tuesday sought to reassure the private sector that the corruption investigation wouldn’t interfere with normal business operations. The procedures and investigations undertaken by the anticorruption agency won’t affect ongoing business or projects, he said. Furthermore, the Saudi central bank said that individual accounts had been frozen, not corporate accounts. “It is business as usual for both banks and corporates,” the central bank said.

However, this is problematic: first, not only is the list of names of detained and “frozen” accounts growing by the day…

The government earlier this week vowed that it would arrest more people as part of the corruption investigation, which began around three years ago. As a precautionary measure, authorities have banned a large number of people from traveling outside the country, among them hundreds of royals and people connected to those arrested, according to people familiar with the matter. The government hasn’t officially named the people who were detained.

… but the mere shock of a move that would be more appropriate for the 1950s USSR has prompted crushed any faith and confidence the international community may have had in Saudi governance and business practices.

The biggest irony would be if from this flagrant attmept to shore up the Kingdom’s deteriorating finances, a domestic and international bank run emerged, with locals and foreign individuals and companies quietly, or not so quietly, pulling their assets and capital from confiscation ground zero, in the process precipitating the very economic collapse that the move was meant to avoid.

Judging by the market reaction, which has sent Riyal forward tumbling on rising bets of either a recession, or devaluation, or both, this unorthodox attempt to inject up to $800 billion in assets into the struggling local economy, could soon backfire spectacularly.

Meanwhile, for those still confused about the current political scene in Saudi Arabia, here is an infographic courtesy of the WSJ which explains “Who Has Been Promoted, Who Has Been Detained in Saudi Arabia

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British Woman Faces Execution In Egypt For Bringing Painkillers For Her Husband’s Bad Back

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Ian Miles Cheong via The Daily Caller,
A British woman has been arrested upon her arrival in Egypt for bringing a box of painkiller medication into the country for her husband’s back pain. Now she faces the possibility of execution.

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700 Years Of Data Suggests The Reversal In Rates Will Be Rapid

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Have we been lulled into a false sense of security about the future path of rates by ZIRP/NIRP policies? Central banks’ misguided efforts to engineer inflation have undoubtedly been woefully feeble, so far. As the Federal Reserve “valiantly” raises short rates, markets ignore its dot plot and yield curves continue to flatten. And thanks to Larry Summers, the term “secular stagnation” has entered the lexicon.  While it sure doesn’t feel like it, could rates suddenly take off to the upside?

A guest post on the Bank of England’s staff blog, “Bank Underground”, answers the question with an unequivocal yes. Harvard University’s visiting scholar at the Bank, Paul Schmelzing, normally focuses on 20th century financial history. In his guest post (see here), he analyses real interest rates stretching back a further 600 years to 1311. Schmelzing describes his methodology as follows.

We trace the use of the dominant risk-free asset over time, starting with sovereign rates in the Italian city states in the 14th and 15th centuries, later switching to long-term rates in Spain, followed by the Province of Holland, since 1703 the UK, subsequently Germany, and finally the US.

Schmelzing calculates the 700-year average real rate at 4.78% and the average for the last two hundred years at 2.6%. As he notes “the current environment remains severely depressed”, no kidding. Looking back over seven centuries certainly provides plenty of context for our current situation, where rates have been trending downwards since the early 1980s. According to Schmelzing, we are in the ninth “real rate depression” since 1311 as shown in his chart below. We count more than nine, but let’s not be picky.

Furthermore, he believes that we are still locked into a 500-year downward trend.

Upon closer inspection, it can be shown that trend real rates have been following a downward path for close to five hundred years, on a variety of measures. The development since the 1980s does not constitute a fundamental break with these tendencies.

Now to the useful bit, Schmelzing looks at how these “real rates depressions” ended. The chart below shows the path of real interest rates in each reversal period following the trough.


He calculates that the average reversal has been 315 basis points within 24 months.

Most reversals to “real rate stagnation” periods have been rapid, non-linear, and took place on average after 26 years. Within 24-months after hitting their troughs in the rate depression cycle, rates gained on average 315 basis points, with two reversals showing real rate appreciations of more than 600 basis points within 2 years.

While we’d rather he ignored tainted “maestro”, Schmelzing states that there is “solid historical evidence” to support Greenspan’s view that real rates will rise “reasonably fast” once they turn. In Schmelzing’s opinion, and we would broadly agree, the best analogy in “recent” times for today’s situation is the Long Depression that followed the Panic of 1873.

Most of the eight previous cyclical “real rate depressions” were eventually disrupted by geopolitical events or catastrophes, with several – such as the Black Death, the Thirty Years War, or World War Two – combining both demographic, and geopolitical inflections. Most cyclical real rate depressions equally coincided with inflation outperformances. But for a minority of cycles, economic fundamentals were decisive, and exhibited both excess savings and subdued inflation. The prime example – and likely the closest historical analogy to today’s “secular stagnation” – is represented by the global “Long Depression” of the 1880s and 1890s. Following years of a global railroad investment frenzy, and global overcapacity indicators inflecting in the mid-1860s, the infamous “Panic of 1873” heralded the advent of two decades of low productivity growth, deflationary price dynamics, and a rise in global populism and protectionism.

Low rates in the wake of a financial crisis, lack of productivity growth, rising populism, etc, all strike a chord with our current circumstances, obviously. Going into more detail about the exit from the real rates depression of the 1880s-1890s, Schmelzing emphasises a rebound in productivity, stronger wage inflation and monetary expansion.

What ended the Long Depression? Labor productivity bottomed out in 1892-3, prior to the discovery of gold at the Klondike, and the associated monetary expansion. Wage inflation started outstripping productivity increases as early as 1885, leading the recovery in general inflation. And US equities finally bounced back from their 15-year lows with the Presidential election of William McKinley – a Republican pro-business protectionist – in November 1896. In other words, there is strong evidence suggesting that the last “secular stagnation cycle” started fading relatively autonomously after just over two decades following the key financial shock, not requiring the aid of decisive fiscal or monetary stimulus.

We find his conclusion, that a rapid, non-linear recovery in real rates can occur without any “decisive” events or policy, almost counter-intuitive. It doesn’t feel like it’s about to happen, but maybe it didn’t in the 1890s either. Indeed, maybe the best analogy for rates today is the proverbial beach ball held under water.

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Lebanon – The Next Front In The Great Gas War

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Via Golem XIV’s blog,

The Great Gas War has already two distinct fronts: The now relatively quiet Northern Front in Ukraine and the Southern Front in Syria in which the Western empire has been losing. It looks to me that Lebanon is being targeted as the next front, where the West hopes its loses might be recouped.

Yesterday, November 6th,  Reuters reported,

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

This comes after Israel, Saudi’s long time though largely un-offical best friend in the region,  has been very publicly preparing to renew its own war with Lebanon – or more accurately with Hezbollah.  As the American news journal Newsweek put it recently,

ISRAEL PREPARES FOR ANOTHER WAR WITH HEZBOLLAH AS IDF PRACTICES LEBANON INVASION.

Why now and why Lebanon?  Well the rulers of Saudi, a Sunni dominated country, will tell us that it is because Hezbollah is a Shia terrorist organisation. “Hezbollah” literally means the “Party of Allah” or “Party of God”.  Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan yesterday pointedly referred to Hezbollah as, “the Lebanese Party of the Devil”.  Saudi is not alone of course, Hezbollah has also been listed as a terrorist organisation by America, Israel, the Arab League, the UK and the EU. It is also, however, part of the popular government of Lebanon having seats in its parliament.

I suggest, however, a powerful reason that a new war with Hezbollah may be in the offing is because Lebanon is the next link in any gas pipeline that could potentially bring Iranian Gas to Europe. That was the reason the West decided to “liberate” the Syrian people and it will be why they decide to enforce the same salvation upon the people of Lebanon. Having failed to liberate the Syrians, Saudi, the West, its Sunni Gulf allies and Israel will now see if they can succeed in blocking any Iranian gas ambitions by liberating the Lebanese from their own government.  I would not be surprised to hear quite soon from opposition groups vocally denouncing the government or at least Hezbollah. I expect spokes people from those groups to suddenly get a global platform along-side American and regional supporters such as Saudi.

When I look at Saudi I can’t help but notice that it has , all in a short space of time, begun wars in neighbouring Yemen and Syria, and declared first Qatar and now Lebanon supporters of terror if not actually themselves terrorists. Saudi has gone from a nation surrounded by allies or at least states with whom it had basic diplomatic relations, to a nation surrounded by enemies.  It begins to remind me of Israel in that respect.

Gas of course is not the be all and end all. In many ways it is a surface marker, the means for regional and global struggles for political power and influence.  For Saudi it is the basis of its struggle for regional supremacy with Qatar. For America it is the regional marker for its proxy struggle with Russia for political dominance and for control over gas supplies to Europe.  America has sided with Saudi. Russia and China have sided with Qatar.  Qatar struck a decisive blow for dominance and for a new Qatar focussed power structure when it opened the region’s only clearing house for settlement of Gas contracts in Yuan.

I see the political turmoil inside Saudi as a struggle between those who see the House of Saud’s only hope for a future to be to remain firmly aligned with America and therefore by extension, with Israel, versus those who might consider switching or at least splitting their allegiance so as to move closer to Russia/China. A move which might be correct but which would concede to Qatar some large portion of what has been up till now Saudi’s pre-eminence.

Wars in Yemen, Syria and soon Lebanon make the divide between these two possible futures for The House of Saud, very sharp.

For Israel it will mean war and troops on the ground. America will certainly help in the air but Israel will shed blood on the ground.

What will Russia do? I doubt it will put troops into Lebanon. But I could very easily see it extending in to Lebanon the air support it has deployed in Syria. I could see Iran being tempted to send troops or at least ‘advisors’ or perhaps just ‘allow’ zealots who want to go, to do so. And that itself may be part of what some in America would like – tempt Iran into lending support and then declare anew that Iran is, pointing at new evidence,  a state sponsor of international terror.  America has desired a confrontation with Iran for a long time and want a new excuse.

The Great Gas War has not finished. I suggest it is about to open a new front. A front that could ignite a wider conflict.

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Bitcoin Rebounds Sharply After Gartman Predicts Drop

November 7, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Having tumbled from record highs near $7600 to $6900 in the last two days, Bitcoin is rebounding this morning, back to $7250 following condemnation from Dennis Gartman and blessing from ‘father of financial futures’ Leo Melamed.

Gartman issued the following statement overnight…

BITCOIN: A Bubble Bursting… Maybe?: Our antipathy toward Bitcoin specifically and toward the crypto-currencies generically is widely known but yesterday’s action does look like a “reversal” to the downside… finally.

And Bitcoin surged…

 

But on the positive side, Reuters reports that Leo Melamed, 85, said while he was initially skeptical about bitcoin he sees similarities between it and International Monetary Market currency futures trading, which he launched as chairman of the Chicago exchange in 1972.

“The world in the 1970s didn’t look at currency trading as a valid instrument of finance. I too went from not believing (in bitcoin) to wanting to know more,” he said.

He says bitcoin could go beyond being a crypto-currency and represent a new asset class based on blockchain technology.

“My whole life is built abound new technology. I never said no to technology. People who say no to technology are soon dead. I’m still that same guy who believes in, at least examining change. That’s what bitcoin represents,” he also said.

Melamed said he expects major investors to take part in bitcoin futures, which the exchange plans to start by the end of year.

“That’s a very important step for bitcoin’s history… We will regulate, make bitcoin not wild, nor wilder. We’ll tame it into a regular type instrument of trade with rules.”

Finally, we note that as the cryptocurrency has surged in recent months, searches for “buy bitcoin” have overtaken “buy gold” dramatically

“With the U.S. stock market setting fresh all-time highs day after day, it’s no surprise gold prices have retreated,” Adrian Ash, research director at London-based BullionVault, said in a report.

“Some investors are also being distracted by the noise around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Altogether, that’s made interest from new gold investors the weakest since the metal’s half-decade price lows of end-2015.”

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Goldman’s Asset Arm Takes Big Hit On Venezuelan Bond Bloodbath

November 7, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The fallout from the Venezuelan bond restructuring has claimed a major victim in Goldman Sachs Asset Management, or rather some of the “muppets” who trusted Goldman to invest their money. However, the route which led Goldman to losing a chunk of client money wasn’t just a case of bad judgement, being riddled with the usual mixture of greed, questionable ethics and government intervention. As we detailed in “Goldman Accused Of Funding Maduro’s Dictatorship”.

Goldman controversially purchased $2.8 billion of 2022 bonds in May 2017 in the state-owned oil producer PDVSA, for about $865 million – or about 31 cents on the dollar. This prompted Julio Borges, President of the National Assembly and head of Venezuela’s opposition, to accuse Goldman of “aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime.” Borges threatened that any future democratic government would not recognise or pay on the bonds. In true Goldman fashion, however, the deal was just too lucrative to pass up, or so it seemed at the time, as Goldman paid a then 30% discount to other Venezuelan bonds with a similar maturity.

 

Goldman’s ”defence” was that it did not buy the bonds directly from PDVSA, consequently it did not transfer funds directly to the Venezuelan regime.

To make matters worse, when the Trump White House extended sanctions against Venezuela over the Summer, including a ban on trading Venezuelan debt, Goldman’s bonds were mysteriously exempt. As we argued here.

“the logic is that if Goldman was forced to liquidate the bonds, or worse was stuck holding them as Venezuela went bankrupt, it would take a huge hit on the nearly $3 billion notional position. As such, Goldman’s advisors to Trump made it quite clear that any sanctions against Venezuela would have to be Goldman Sachs revenue neutral first and foremost. That’s precisely what happened.”

We have to acknowledge, however, that the next comment of ours was only half correct.

“Of course, Venezuela’s default is just a matter of time, but it won’t take place before Goldman dumps its bond holdings to some unwitting retail investor or some German widows and orphans.”

It turns out that Goldman had only dumped part of its holdings prior to the expected default, and is sitting on a sizeable loss, as the FT explains.

Ricardo Penfold, a senior portfolio manager at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, earlier this year swooped on a big slice of a bond issued by PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, people familiar with the matter say. Mr Penfold paid $865m for bonds with a face value of $2.8bn — a price of just under 31 cents on the dollar — reflecting the elevated risks of a default even at the time. While GSAM has since sold off chunks of the bond, it was still listed as the single biggest overall owner of the PDVSA bond maturing in 2022, with a face value holding of $1.3bn at the end of the third quarter. But with Thursday’s announcement that Venezuela would seek to restructure all its foreign bonds, the bond is now trading at 25 cents on the dollar, down from 29 cents at the start of last week. That would translate into a paper loss of $54m in just five days if GSAM has not reduced its stake since the end of the third quarter…

 

GSAM is listed as the single biggest overall owner of PDVSA debts, according to Bloomberg data based on fund filings, with $1.8bn of face value holdings.

 

A Goldman spokesman said: “We are monitoring this situation closely.” The summer deal was particularly controversial, attracting condemnation from the Venezuelan opposition and US senator Marco Rubio, because it in effect constituted a cash infusion for the increasingly autocratic government led by Nicolás Maduro. GSAM bought the bond via an intermediary, but it was sold by the central bank.

As we said, and other analysts agree, Goldman should have seen it coming. From the FT article.

Many investors who had been betting that Venezuela would manage to avoid defaulting are nursing losses. Venezuelan bonds suffered a drubbing in the wake of Mr Maduro announcing plans to restructure the country’s $89bn debt pile. “This has been a well-telegraphed train wreck,” said Robert Koenigsberger, head of Gramercy, an emerging markets-focused asset manager.

 

“There are reasons to expect that prices will go even lower from here.” GSAM and other big Venezuelan bond investors — such as Fidelity, T Rowe Price and Ashmore — could still end up making money from their Venezuelan bond purchases, as analysts expect the ultimate “recovery value” on Venezuelan debt to be higher than where the bonds are trading at now.

While the article suggests the possibility of a more favourable exit for Goldman in due course, the restructuring of Venezuelan debt is not going to be a “plain vanilla” variety. Indeed, it might be more complicated than any previous sovereign debt restructuring. The irony for Goldman, as the FT explains, is that the extension of sanctions by the US Government will make it much harder for the bank to recover its losses.

Venezuela’s plans to restructure its debts are riddled with complications. The mess of bonds issued by the country and PDVSA are hard to disentangle, and oil exports — the country’s sole financial lifeline — are vulnerable to seizures from litigious creditors. However, the biggest wrinkle is the US government’s sanctions on Venezuela, unveiled in August after the GSAM deal. In practice, they prohibit any US institutions from involvement in any Venezuelan debt restructuring.

 

“Sanctions will prevent a conventional exchange offer,” said Lee Buchheit, a senior partner at Cleary Gottlieb, who has represented a series of countries when they restructure their debts. “It’s really not clear what Maduro has in mind, or whether he even has anything in mind.”

 

Venezuela owes about $750m in bond arrears and is facing a further $965m of interest payments over November and December, calculates Patrick Esteruelas, global head of research at Emso Asset Management. If Caracas has run out of money — and Russia or China decline to extend more loans to Venezuela — it will have to default. But as long as US sanctions remain in place, this will push Venezuela into financial purgatory of a protracted, unresolvable debt default. “In a world where you can’t pay and you can’t restructure, all you can do is default,” Mr Koenigsberger said. “Even without the sanction, this would have been an exceptionally tough debt restructuring. It will now be exponentially harder than anything we have seen before. And I don’t think that is priced in yet.”

It will be tragically amusing to watch what extraordinary measures the heavily Goldman-influenced White House takes to bail the bank out of its latest predicament.

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