Archive for July 6th, 2009

Petrobono 2011 operetta ends with a sleight of hand and a twist

July 6, 2009

(Este post se encuentra en Español aqui)

Let’s recap: The Petrobono 2011 was supposed to be for US$ 2 billion, but expanded to US$ 3 billion. It was supposed to trade only in Venezuela, but then PDVSA offered to register it abroad. It was supposed to be institutional, but then it was opened to individuals. The schedule was changed three times and it was issued under local law.

It’s purpose? To raise funds for PDVSA and help drive down the parallel swap market that was Bs. 6.45 at the time.

Finally, it closed last week and after this series of comical and amateurish steps, it was supposed to be assigned today.

No more surprises you think?

WRONG!!!

Because today PDVSA announced the results and the cut off price was 175% at Bs. 2.15 per US$ purchased and in a surprising sleight of hand, PDVSA placed less than the US$ 2 billion originally planned or less than half of the “increased” amount of US$ 3 billion.

Essentially, given all of the uncertainties still remaining on the issue, investors decided to play it very safe and place bids that would give them a low price in local currency for their foreign currency. But in the end, PDVSA raised less than it wanted and investors went through a lot of grief for nothing. PDVSA says there were bids for US$ 7.9 billion, which we find suspect, unless the Government’s own banks placed last minute bids.

But in the end this has just been an operetta, a comical display of sheer incompetence that achieved less than half of one of the two main goals of the placement. Because in the end, today the swap rate ended up above what it was when the bond was first announced (Even if rumors of its existence did play a role in keeping the rate down)

And to add insult to injury, there is the new twist tonight that PDVSA says that it is studying issuing “soon” the remainder of the failed issue at a price even higher of 181%.

Jeez, so the lucky ones that actually got the bond will live until the remainder is issued under the shadow of the possible arrival in the market of almost US$ 1.6 billion in additional bonds, which will do little to prop up the price of the bond once it is registered in the international markets.

What will they say tomorrow? That they will wait to register it in the international markets for the new issue? Truly nothing surprises us anymore in this mindless and incompetent revolution, so why not this too?

A bunch of high school students would have probably done a better job than these revolutionary “professionals” of not so high finance in placing, now and then, the new Petrobono 2011.

UN: Venezuela leader in cocaine transit, another victory for the robolution

July 6, 2009

(Este post se encuentra en Español aqui)

On Sunday, El Nacional (Ciudadanos page 13, by subscription) carried an article on the recent report by the United Nations on drug consumption and trafficking, which besides talking about the increase in consumption of opiates in Venezuela (page 89 of report),  it says Venezuela has become the largest transit country for cocaine in the world (page 72 of report), with an estimated 40% of all cocaine shipments going through the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The first thing you notice is the reaction of the Venezuelan Government, rather than being embarrased or surprised, or simply announce a new war on drugs, they somehow reach the conclusion that this was a victory for the country, finding it positive, as the UN found “Venezuela among the top countries in seizures of cocaine shipments”.

Well, it turns out that seizures in Venezuela are actually down, not up, while the percentage of cocaine trafficking that goes through the country is actually up significantly , but apparently the Colonel has little acquaintance with basic mathematical concepts.

But the most bothersome thing about this is the implications. Who watches the border for drug trafficking? Well, our illustrious military, which has been able to lobby for and purchase billions of dollars in defensive and offensive weapons, tanks, helicopters and jet fighters, but the country only has a single airplane dedicated to fighting drug trafficking and a meager seven frigates for over 1,000 Kms. of coast.

And the reason for this you may wonder? Well, I will not insult your intelligence on this, but it is quite obvious: corruption. The military looks the other way for the same reason that the Government looks the other way in the dozens of corrupt financial/business schemes that the robolution has invented in the last few years under the watch (??) of Hugo Chávez.

Thus, another victory for the Chávez revolution, joining those of terrifying crime statistics, kidnappings and corruption. Unfortunately, while these last three can be reverted in the future, the nefastous corrupting effects of drug trafficking and use, have proven to be almsot impossible to reverse once they are ingrained into the culture of a country.

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