Friday, August 26, 2011

WIll Energy & Mineral Wealth Displace the Dollar as an International Exchange Mechanism?

from Noticias 24
Moscow, 26 August, 2011 (AFP) - Russia nad Venezuela are studying the possibility of creating a new international financial institution, that would become the equivalent of the World Bank in a more modest form, it was reported in the Russian periodical Kommersant.

In 2010, the two countries countries singned an accord regarding the creation of a bank of 4 billion dollars and designated to finance public projects, Kommersant recorded.

According to the periodical, on Thursday in a meeting between Hugo Chavez and the Russian Chancellor Serguei Lavrov, that the bank would have offices in Moscow and two other cities, Caracas and Bejing.

Sources in the Russian delegation who accompanied Lavrov on his visit that Venezuela wishes to convert it into a financial institution with much more importance than originally envisioned.

"We are studying rhe possibility of converting this bank into an international financial institution in the image of the World Bank, but of course with a much more modest proportion," stated these sources.

Other members of the delegation indicated that Chavez was disposed to transfer to this bank a portion of the accounts of the Venezuelan state oil company.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Venezuela Hits Another Downgrade

from CNBC
Standard & Poor's on Friday downgraded Venezuela's credit ratings as it implemented a new methodology more heavily focused on political risk—a key weakness in the oil-producing country.

S&P cut Venezuela's long-term sovereign rating to B-plus from BB-minus. The outlook on the new rating is stable. The agency's new methodology was published on June 30, a little more than a month before it invoked political concerns to downgrade U.S. credit ratings.

Political risk has been a constant issue in Venezuela, where change in economic rules and nationalization of companies are common. Uncertainty about the health of President Hugo Chavez, who had surgery in Cuba earlier this summer to remove a cancerous tumor followed by chemotherapy treatment, has added to those risks, S&P said in a statement.

"In our opinion, changing and arbitrary laws, price and exchange controls, and other distorting and unpredictable economic measures have undermined private-sector investment and hurt productivity, weakening Venezuela's domestic economy," S&P analyst Roberto Sifon Arevalo wrote in a report.

Venezuela's vast oil and gas reserves "somewhat" offset the policy uncertainty, S&P said. The country posts steady current account surpluses which, combined with strict capital controls, result in positive net asset positions.

However, S&P expressed concern about the actual level of Venezuela's gold and foreign exchange reserves after reports that the country plans to repatriate them.

"When you have the reserves held abroad, you do have some level of confidence," Arevalo told Reuters in an interview. "That is not going to be the case anymore. They are going to be held at the central bank domestically, then you fall in the same circle of lack of transparency that everything else has in Venezuela."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chavez Catches Gold Fever - Prelude to Military Conflict?

from the Financial Times
President Hugo Chávez said on Wednesday that he will nationalise Venezuela’s gold industry in a bid to stamp out illegal mining and boost international reserves.

“We don’t want war with anyone, but we have to defend our country,” said the former tank commander during an address to the army as he was presenting them with newly purchased Russian military equipment.

“I’m counting on you because the area remains in anarchy, run by mafias … We can’t keep allowing them to take it away,” he said, adding that he would sign a decree in the coming days approving the move. “Let’s convert it into our international reserves because gold is increasing in its value.”

The move follows opposition accusations that the Venezuelan government plans to transfer billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves held in countries such as the US to banks in “friendly” countries such as China, Russia and Brazil in order to avoid its assets being frozen.

Analysts estimate that of Venezuela’s $29bn international reserves, the government will only be able to move about $5bn of its cash reserves.

But with some two-thirds of its reserves held in gold, amounting to 364 tons worth $18bn, the government is allegedly also planning to move the 211 tons of gold that it keeps abroad, worth $11bn, to the vaults of the central bank in Caracas, according to opposition lawmaker Julio Montoya.

“We think that China, Russia and Brazil have asked Venezuela to transfer the reserves to guarantee the loans that the government has received in recent years,” said Mr Montoya. According to local paper El Universal, Venezuela has accumulated some $34bn of debt with those countries over the past 16 months.

Despite sitting on one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world in the south of the country, Venezuela has struggled to develop its gold sector for decades, which has been over-run by illegal miners and smugglers. Although Venezuela officially produces 11 metric tons of gold a year, illegal miners extract an additional 10 to 11 tons a year, according to Mr Chávez.

After nationalising the assets of three foreign companies, the only international company still extracting gold from Venezuela is the Russian mining company Rusoro.

Venezuela now faces several international arbitration suits, with Canada’s Gold Reserve announcing earlier this month that it has raised the amount it is claiming from the seizure of its two gold projects to $2.1bn from $1.9bn.
from Bloomberg News
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the central bank to repatriate $11 billion of gold reserves held in developed nations’ institutions such as the Bank of England as prices for the metal rise to a record.

Venezuela, which holds 211 tons of its 365 tons of gold reserves in U.S., European, Canadian and Swiss banks, will progressively return the bars to its central bank’s vault, Chavez said yesterday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Barclays Plc (BARC), and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) also hold Venezuelan gold, he said.

“We’ve held 99 tons of gold at the Bank of England since 1980. I agree with bringing that home,” Chavez said yesterday on state television. “It’s a healthy decision.”

Chavez, whose government depends on oil for 95 percent of its export revenue, is looking to diversify Venezuela’s cash reserves from U.S. and European banks to include investments in emerging markets including Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, central bank President Nelson Merentes said yesterday. The world’s 15th-largest holder of gold is bringing back its gold after a 28 percent rally in the price this year.

Venezuela’s reserves stood at $28.6 billion on Aug. 16. Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said that the weakening U.S. dollar, a near-default by the U.S. government and the European sovereign debt crisis threaten Venezuela’s savings and they will be more secure at home and in “allied” countries.

‘Green Light’
Chavez, speaking by phone on state television last night, said he signed the document yesterday authorizing the transfer of the gold reserves. “I said, ‘I give my absolute approval to this idea’,” Chavez said. “I gave it the green light.”

The central bank already has about $7 billion of gold in its vaults. Of the country’s liquid reserves, which amount to about $6.3 billion, 59 percent are held in Switzerland, 18 percent in the U.K and about 11 percent in the U.S., according to a government report.

The government may be moving to repatriate reserves ahead of arbitration case rulings to avoid an “attachment risk” that could freeze international assets, Boris Segura, a New York- based strategist at Nomura Securities, said in a research note.

The repatriation and diversification of reserves may also cloud transparency of government holdings, which would be a negative for the country’s credit, he said.

Lack of Transparency
“We sense that Venezuelan debt prices already incorporate a sizeable ‘lack of transparency’ premium,” Segura said. “However, looking at the possible geopolitical signals that these proposed policies communicate, we fear that Venezuelan bond prices may suffer.”

In all, Venezuela has 365.8 metric tons of gold reserves, according to the World Gold Council.

Chavez’s decision could have “worrisome” implications because of less data transparency and the threat that the gold stock could be used for politically motivated spending ahead of next year’s presidential elections, RBS Securities Inc. said.

“It is clear that the motivation appears mostly to fit a political agenda to align with strategic political partners and retaliate against the recent U.S. sanctions on fears that assets might at some point be frozen,” RBS Latin American analysts Felipe Hernandez and Siobhan Morden wrote in a note.

Borrowing Costs
Venezuela has the highest borrowing costs among major emerging-market countries. The extra yield investors demand to own Venezuelan government bonds instead of U.S. Treasuries rose 43 basis points, 0.43 percentage point, to 1,233 basis points today at 9:20 a.m. in New York, according to JPMorgan & Chase Co.’s EMBI+.

Yields on the government’s benchmark 9.25 percent bonds maturing in 2027 rose 47 basis points to 14.02 percent at 9:20 a.m. in New York, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price fell 2.28 cents on the dollar to 69.84 cents.

Chavez also said yesterday that he’s preparing a decree to nationalize the gold industry to halt illegal mining and dedicate local production to building up reserves.

Of 17 arbitration cases pending against Venezuela in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, at least three of them are over mining ventures, including Crystallex International Corp. (KRY), a Canadian gold producer whose Las Cristinas mine was taken over by the government in February.

Gold Reserve Inc. (GRZ), a Spokane, Washington-based mining company, is seeking $2.1 billion in damages after its Las Brisas gold and copper project was seized in May 2008.

No Surprise “Today’s announcement is not surprising,” Doug Belander, Gold Reserve president, said yesterday in an interview. “We believe that their objective all along was to take over the entire industry.”

The South American country, in an effort to boost stalled production and take advantage of rising prices, last year relaxed restrictions on gold exports to allow some companies and joint ventures with the government to send as much as 50 percent of their output abroad.

Rusoro Mining Ltd. (RML), a Vancouver-based mining company, is the last publicly traded gold mining company operating in Venezuela. The company’s stock rose 4 percent to 13 Canadian cents as of 10:15 a.m. in Toronto, after yesterday plunging 17 percent to its lowest in almost a decade.

Rusoro Chief Executive Officer Andre Agapov said today that it had not received any indications from the Venezuelan government that its projects in the country would be affected.

“We believe the government’s announcement is targeted toward the many illegal mining operations in Bolivar state,” Agapov said in a statement.

Gold Production
Venezuela produces 11 metric tons of gold a year, and illegal miners extract an additional 10 to 11 tons a year, Chavez said in May.

Venezuela’s National Guard first seized control of the Las Cristinas mine, which has reserves of about 27 million ounces, in November 2001 from Canada’s Vanessa Ventures.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $24.30, or 1.4 percent, to $1,815.50 an ounce on the Comex in New York today at 9:30 a.m. Prices touched a record $1,817.60 on Aug. 11.

“If there isn’t enough room to store the gold in the central bank vaults I can lend you the basement of the Miraflores presidential palace,” Chavez said.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Proof that Venezuela's Voters Are Amongst the Oldest in the Once Free World

from Noticias 24
The Electoral National Council of Venezuela (CNE) published this Sunday a list of more than 17,500 people than they appear registered as voters with ages between 111 and 129 years of age, that will be suspended of the registry unless they confirm their existence.

“If you have a well-known relative or who could be between these ages interests to you to review this listing”, says the cover of this listing that was sent to newspapers of national circulation.

In the notice, the CNE asks for the relatives of these centennial citizens to communicate through a gratuitous call to a number established for this purpose with the idea to help to purge the Electoral Registry.

“It is important you do that it because these voters temporarily will be suspended of their condition of voters until they are updated in the Electoral Registry”, it is indicated the cover of the list.

The CNE is preparing the electoral processes that are approaching, like the primary elections of the opposition, that will be realised in next February, and the presidential ones at the moment, that will be conducted by the end of 2012.

In the middle of the 2006 and on the eve of the presidential elections that would be realised in December of that year Electoral Registry initiated a new purification, that in the open put the existence in Venezuela of two called citizens “Superman” by its outpost age, whom put in doubt the seriousness of this organism. Nevertheless, the existence of these citizens, as well as the one of baptized others with peculiar names like Hitler or Barbie could be verified.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Venezuelan's Reaction to the Phony Politics of Sean Penn

Ozzie Guillen is a native born Venezuelan, and he doesn't think very kindly of the foreign dictator's favorite useful progressive idiot Sean Penn. The reason why Guillien isn't keen on Penn is, because Sean Penn is going around giving the false impression on how great the country of Venezuela is. The problem with Sean's assertion about Guillien's home country is that Sean has come to his conclusion from his grand guided tour of the country by Hugo Chavez and his cronies. Ozzie Guillien knows the "real Venezuela". He knows all about the poverty and lower standards of living under Hugo Chavez. It's hard not to understand why Ozzie Guillen sees Sean Penn as a loser. I would add the word clueless in front of loser.
h/t - Tyrone @ Wake up Black America!

I guess when Sean Penn needs a donation to HIS favorite charity, Hugo Chavez is the Go-To Guy. And when Hugo Chavez needs an apologist for communist oppression in America, Sean Penn is the Go-To Guy. You wash my back... and I'll wash yours.