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The Shibui Roundtable

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  jpatlantic: This time there is no need to speculate.

Venezuela's strongman Hugo Chavez is gravely ill and might die in weeks if not months. Chavez admitted his pelvic cancer had recurred for a third time and traveled to Cuba for surgery. Most foreign oncologists say the prognosis is not good.

For the first time since he became ill, Chavez agreed his life was in danger and publicly announced he had chosen his successor to carry on with his 21st Century brand of socialism if he were to die or be unable to serve.

Even though Henrique Capriles Radonski, the former governor of the State of Miranda, headed a united opposition for the first time, Chavez won easily, by a margin of 55 to 44 percent.

Now, the question in Venezuela and among analysts is whether Maduro could win anew in elections the Constitution mandates within 30 days of the president's death; if he is unable to be sworn in on Jan. 10; or if he dies in his first two years in office.

Many Venezuelans, who oppose Chavez and his ever-growing socialist policies, hope this is their country's best chance to return to a true democracy. Not all agree it will be easy, particularly if Chavez were to die suddenly.

Joaquin Rodri­guez, a former Venezuelan vice minister and a political consultant in Venezuela and Mexico who now resides in Broward County, believes Maduro could be defeated by Capriles Radonski, if the Roundtable of Democratic Unity remains united.

Lourdes Ubieta, host of a news program on Actuablidad 1020 in Miami-Dade and 1040 A.M. in Broward, disagrees. She believes Capriles Radonski made a major political mistake in running again for the governorship of Miranda, and if he should lose against Eli­a Jaua, the former Venezuelan vice president Sunday, he would become a two-time loser and would have a hard time defeating Maduro.

Both agree if Capriles Radonski wins Sunday's elections, his possibilities of winning a new presidential election increase. If he loses it will be much harder. Capriles Radonski was elected governor of Miranda handily, but in the presidential election he lost the state by a narrow margin to Chavez.

Rodri­guez says polls in Venezuela consistently show that Maduro would lose a race against Capriles Radonski.

"The poor in Venezuela showed their grief publicly when Chavez made the announcement Sunday," said Ubieta, who just returned from a trip to Venezuela.

Furthermore, she adds, Maduro, who is also the favorite candidate of the Castro brothers in Cuba, would have all of the same government resources that have allowed Chavez to shower social programs on Venezuela's poor with the petrodollars the government has from its state-owned oil industry.

Other analysts predict an internal squabble that may include the military if Chavez were to die. But before he left for Cuba, Chavez met with his closest followers and made them promise they would support Maduro if he were to be unable to assume the presidency or die.

Unquestionably, however, the best possibility of defeating Maduro in an upcoming election would be for Capriles Radonski to win his bid for the governorship of Miranda Sunday.

  jpatlantic: Venezuela is weighing changes to a central bank system used to control the foreign-exchange rate after the bolivar fell to a record in black-market trading, fueling speculation the currency will be devalued.

The central bank is selling fewer dollars on the Sitme system at a rate of 5.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar to limit its losses as the Venezuelan currency is trading above 13 in the unregulated market, said a government official with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been made. The person declined to provide additional details other than saying scrapping the Sitme was a possibility.

Declining trading volumes in the Sitme are fueling speculation that President Hugo Chavez will devalue the bolivar after winning re-election, said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based financial consultancy Ecoanalitica. Chavez, who won last month’s election by more than 10 percentage points after increasing spending by 20.5 percent in real terms in the first nine months of the year, will need to devalue the currency in the first quarter of 2013 to boost oil revenue and help close a fiscal deficit, according to Bank of America Corp

  adriedu: Hello,please Shibui,can you update the closing price of PDVSA bonds? because they were posted on november 2 for last time. Appreciate.
  jpatlantic: Forget the Data, Chinese GDP Is Actually Near Zero Says Gordon Chang

Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and contributor to Forbes Magazine, whenever he looks at China's official GDP results, in which the most recent data showed Q3 GDP rising 7.4%, or today's HSBC Flash PMI data which rose to a 3-month high of 49.1. While still below 50, and technically reflecting contraction, the word from the mainland is one of encouragement and that worst is over.

''It just doesn't make sense," Chang says in the attached video, claiming that the true number is probably zero or 1%. "This number is not consistent with what we know about the Chinese economy."

Not only does he say that GDP growth of that magnitude would coincide with comparable increases in electricity consumption, he says it also doesn't jive with a report that showed a 3% decline in wholesale and seems out of whack with with inflation that's slipped below 2%.

"It doesn't compute," Chang says, arguing that the average monthly increase in electricity production was 2.1%, adding that it historically outpaces GDP and has been among the most reliable economic barometers, too.

Another area of concern for Chang is the potential for unrest. While the saga surrounding workers at the Foxconn factories where Apple gadgets are made has been well covered, Chang says it barely touches on what is happening on a broader scale.

"Across Chinese society, the one factor that people always talk about is the anger," he says. But the reality is that the central government in Beijing no longer produces statistics on uprisings and protests, which by his estimates are now probably occurring at a rate that is ''north of 200,000 per year."

And finally, he's awaiting the results of China's once-a-decade process of selecting new leadership when the 18th Communist Party Congress begins on November 8. From Chang's perspective, the country known for its ironclad one party rule could be entering what's locally referred to as a period of "two suns in the sky." By this he means a new leader may have to share the spotlight with current President Hu Jintao, who is reputed to want to linger in the limelight after his term has officially ended. In addition, he says former President Jiang Zemin may even resurface as a "third sun," further complicating any transition and muddying the authority and message of the new leader

  jpatlantic: Venezuela;
1)Chavez is president until 2019 ,if he survives that much.

2)Chavez leaving office in the first 4 years of his term ,new ellection must take place in 30 days.(opposition wins with the 6M votes they have)

3)Most of Veny and PDVSA bonds faced north .Reason:China sent a strong message of support if the Comandante still in place.

  jpatlantic: Rival supporters in Venezuela's presidential election fought and threw stones on Wednesday before a campaign stop by opposition leader Henrique Capriles less than a month before the October 7 vote.

Both sides blamed each other for the worst flare-up since the campaign began in July. Several people were hurt as dozens clashed around an airport in Puerto Cabello - even chasing each other across the runway - where Capriles had been due to land.

One pickup truck carrying opposition campaign materials was set on fire, and at least one other car was smashed up.

There have already been a handful of clashes on the campaign trail as Capriles tries to unseat President Hugo Chavez and end 14 years of the socialist leader's self-styled revolution

  morcilla: Buy in 2007 Washington Mutual perpetual bonds ISIN G9463GAA60 after bankruptcy and give me back change under 1560 shares of a new company is that correct WMHI
  jpatlantic: Spain remains the biggest concern for euro zone leaders since a full bailout would stretch its resources to the limit.

Having insisted that Madrid needed no sovereign aid, Rajoy has now said he would consider seeking further help on top of a bank bailout of up to 100 billion euros but says he needs to see the ECB's cards first. In three weeks time, he might.

"Until we know what decision the ECB has taken on this matter, we aren't going to take one either," Rajoy said on Tuesday.

Samaras will meet Merkel on August 24 and will insist he can ram through an austerity package worth about 11.5 billion euros (9 billion pounds) -- a key condition to continue receiving EU/IMF bailout funds and avoid default and a possible exit from the currency club.

"Our key priority is to regain our credibility by showing our determination," a Greek government official said.

Samaras will also raise a long-standing proposal that the austerity measures be spread over four instead of two years, to soften their impact on a Greek economy enduring its longest and deepest recession since World War Two.

No formal request will be made but the proposal will be broached as part of exploratory talks, the official said.

  jpatlantic: ECB President Mario Draghi said the ECB will do whatever is needed to preserve the single currency.To the extent that the size of these sovereign premia hamper the functioning of the monetary policy transmission channel, they come within our mandate, Draghi said in a speech at the Global Investment Conference in London today. Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, he said, adding:believe me, it will be enough.
  Barney: My demo portfolio... Black Swan
  jpatlantic: Venezuela has sold 53.1 billion bolivars in local debt this year through June 29, Rodriguez said. That 66 percent of the total debt that was initially approved in the budget.

Chavez in March adjusted the finance law to reduce the need for authorization from the National Assembly and the central bank to boost debt issuance above the amount set in the annual budget. The government can bypass congress and the central bank for additional debt operations needed to refinance public debt, guarantee food sovereignty, invest in social and defense projects and fund responses to natural disasters.

Venezuela hasnt sold dollar-denominated bonds since October and has depended on local currency bond sales to raise money and drain liquidity. In May, state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA sold $3 billion of bonds due in 2035 in a private placement with the central bank.

Chavez last year signed a bill to increase the countrys debt ceiling by 45 billion bolivars, almost doubling the initial amount set in the budget. The government and PDVSA, as the oil company is known, sold a record $17 billion of dollar- denominated bonds in 2011 to finance social programs ahead of this years election.

  jpatlantic: CARACAS - Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA has had to buy dozens of extra fuel cargoes from countries as far away as Estonia and Saudi Arabia to keep up its side of a 2008 oil supply deal with leftist ally Ecuador, according to traders and sales documents.

In an examination of shipping data that highlights the practical risks of political trade deals, Reuters found that half the fuel Venezuela sent to Ecuador, which cannot process its own heavy crude, came from third countries, often via trading companies including Glencore.

What was meant to be an example of cooperation between ideologically aligned states, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez importing Ecuadorean crude in return for refined fuel, has instead become another sign of problems in PDVSA's refining network and a profitable niche for foreign traders.

It is also the latest indication of difficulties for PDVSA, one of the world's biggest oil companies and the cash cow of Chavez's "21st century" socialism. In an election year in Venezuela, PDVSA's finances are under growing pressure as Chavez digs deep into its coffers to fund welfare programs.


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  jpatlantic: Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state- owned oil company, will sell $3 billion of bonds due in 2032 with an interest rate of 9 percent before May 14, according to a government official who is involved in the operation.

The Venezuelan central bank and other financial institutions are interested in buying the bonds, said the official.

  jpatlantic: Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is planning a sixth trip to Cuba this year to continue his treatment for cancer ahead of elections in October, fueling speculation his health is deteriorating.

The National Assembly will hold an emergency session at 2 p.m. in Caracas to vote on whether to grant him leave to absent himself from the country for more than five days, according to a press release published on its website. On previous occasions, Congress has voted unanimously in favor. Hugo Chavez, seen here, has refused to say what kind of cancer he has, where it is located or give his prognosis, fueling speculation that the disease is worse than he is letting on. Chavez will appear on television today to sign a new labor law, said a government official, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

Since the operation on Feb. 26, the former tank commander has shuttled back and forth between Cuba and Venezuela as he receives radiation treatment. He had said he would complete his fifth and last session of radiation treatment during his previous trip to Cuba.

Venezuelan bonds have returned 37.5 percent in the past year, the most among emerging markets, according to data compiled by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

The yield on Venezuelas benchmark 9.25 percent bonds due in 2027 fell 33 basis points, or 0.33 percentage point, to 10.74 percent at 1:30 p.m. in Caracas, the largest intraday decline since Oct. 26 . The bonds price rose 2.22 cents to 88.92 cents on the dollar.

People are latching on to the fact that he hasnt made an appearance since he got back.Is more and more likely that he wont be the candidate for the elections.

Since state television aired images of him arriving in Venezuela on April 26, Chavez hasnt appeared in public, choosing instead to call into television events or send messages on his Twitter account.

Henrique Capriles Radonski, called on the Venezuelan leader yesterday to be more transparent about the state of his health.

  jpatlantic: President Dilma Roussefs administration wants Brazilian banks to lower fees charged on investment funds.

Such a move would allow borrowing costs in Brazil to fall further without affecting the countrys savings-account rules. Policy makers this week lowered the benchmark lending rate to 9 percent from 9.75 percent.

Since Brazilian law requires minimum returns on savings accounts, the governments concern is that further cuts in borrowing costs can drive investors out of investment funds that track the Selic rate and into bank deposits. Lower fees in those funds would postpone the need for the government to change savings-account rules

  jpatlantic: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in almost four years, adding to evidence of an improving U.S. labor market.

Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 in the week ended March 24 to 359,000, the lowest since April 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for 350,000 claims. With the report, the government data also contain revisions dating back to 2007.

Companies are retaining workers and hiring as sales pick up along with confidence in the expansion. The pace of employment has gained momentum in the past three months, helping drive income growth that may ease the strain of higher gasoline prices.

  jpatlantic: CARACAS, March 19 (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Monday he had information about a plot to assassinate opposition rival Henrique Capriles, who hopes to block his bid for re-election in October.

"The head of intelligence met with a team of the Miranda governor, because there's some information out there that they want to kill him," Chavez said in a phone call to state TV.

In an already tense election campaign, where the opposition senses it has its best chance to end the socialist leader's 13-year grip on the South American nation, Chavez implied that the plot had come from within the opposition's own ranks.

"It's not the government, not at all, on the contrary."

Chavez gave few details of the alleged plot, but said his government had offered protection to the 39-year-old opposition leader and governor of Miranda state, who is on a nationwide tour to drum up support for his presidential bid.

  jpatlantic: Dollar bonds issued by Centrais Eletricas do Para SA, the Brazilian utility that filed for bankruptcy this week, will recoup all of their losses because the government will support the company, Barclays Plc (BARC) said.

The $250 million of bonds due 2016 will “ultimately” recover in full after sinking as much as 54 cents to 50 cents on the dollar on Feb. 28 following the company bankruptcy filing that day, Juan Cruz, a New York-based analyst with Barclays, said in a report.

Barclays is sticking to its view that Brazils minority stake in Celpa, as the company is known, makes it likely that the government will prop up the company. Barclays listed the Celpa dollar bonds among its top Latin American picks as recently as September and said in a November report that the company was benefiting from “perceived sponsorship from state-run companies. State-owned utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, known as Eletrobras, owns a minority stake in Celpa. Celpa is part of the REDE ENERGIA group.

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