One week ago, we and many others wondered, if the time has finally come for Venezuela, which was facing a “no grace period” $842 million principal payment for bonds issued by state-run energy company PDVSA, to default on its billions of unrepayable obligations. As we reported then, the liquidity crisis for Venezuela was especially acute because even if it did make the first PDVSA payment, it was facing a second, even larger one today, when PDVSA had to make another $1.121BN payment.
Well, despite a several day transfer delay, Venezuela did make the first payment, however it was not clear if Caracas would also make today’s payment, although as Reuters reported earlier, “markets remained optimistic that President Nicolas Maduro’s government will make the payment, though investors expect delays. PDVSA last week struggled for days to deliver funds for a separate bond payment amid confusion over which banks were charged with transferring the money.”
PDVSA bonds were down slightly in early trading on Thursday, while Venezuelan bonds were mixed, according to Thomson Reuters data.
However, as we previewed again last week, and as Reuters confirmed today, “most economists say a default is increasingly likely in the medium term as Venezuela’s collapsing socialist economic model has left the once-prosperous population destitute and led to deterioration of the OPEC nation’s vital oil industry.”
It now appears that that is indeed the case, and the long overdue Venezuela default, which has been speculated ever since 2014, is finally nigh, because during a nationwide TV address, Venezuela’s socialist president Nicolas Maduro said the country will seek to restructure its global debt after the state-owned oil company makes the PDVSA payment due at midnight. Maduro blamed a financial blockade that is preventing the nation from rolling over its debt, according to Bloomberg.
“I decree a refinancing and restructuring of all foreign debt and all Venezuelan payments,” Maduro said. “We’re going to a complete reformatting. To find an equilibrium, and to cover the necessities of the country, the investments of the country.”