Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
Gold Bullhorns Quieted for a Day, at Least - 22nd Feb 19
US Auto Loans - Americans Missing Car Payments Is a Symptom of a Much Bigger Problem - 22nd Feb 19
Stock Traders Must Be Cautious Part III - 22nd Feb 19
Stock Traders Must Stay Optimistically Cautious II - 22nd Feb 19
Sheffield FlyPast Footage - "Mi Amigo" US Bomber Crash Memorial Endcliffe Park - 22nd Feb 19
Sheffield "Mi Amigo" Memorial Fly Past , BBC Crew Setting Up Stage for Breakfast TV Endcliffe Park - 21st Feb 19
Stocks Closer to Medium-Term Resistance Level - 21st Feb 19
The Stock Market’s Momentum is Extremely Strong. What’s Next for Stocks - 21st Feb 19
QE Forever: The Fed's Dramatic About-face - 21st Feb 19
Gold Technical Perspective – Why So Bullish? - 21st Feb 19
Sheffield "Mi Amigo" Memorial Fly Past at 8.45am on 22nd Feb 2019 - 20th Feb 19
Here’s The Real Reason You Stress About Money - 20th Feb 19
Five Online Marketing Predictions that will Matter in 2019 - 20th Feb 19
Has Gold Price Reached Upside Resistance Near $1340-1360? - 20th Feb 19
So Many Things are Not Confirming Stock Market Rally - 20th Feb 19
Forex Trading Management: The Importance of Being Prepared - 19th Feb 19
Gold Stocks are Following This Historical Template - 19th Feb 19
Here’s Why The Left’s New Economic Policies Are Just Stupid - 19th Feb 19
Should We Declare Emergency for Gold? - 19th Feb 19
Why Stock Traders Must Stay Optimistically Cautious Going Forward - 19th Feb 19
The Corporate Debt Bubble Is Strikingly Similar to the Subprime Mortgage Bubble - 18th Feb 19
Stacking The Next QE On Top Of A $4 Trillion Fed Floor - 18th Feb 19
Get ready for the Stock Market Breakout Pattern Setup II - 18th Feb 19
It's Blue Skies For The Stock Market As Far As The Eye Can See - 18th Feb 19
Stock Market Correction is Due - 18th Feb 19
Iran's Death Spiral -- 40 Years And Counting - 17 Feb 19
Venezuela's Opposition Is Playing With Fire - 17 Feb 19
Fed Chairman Deceives; Precious Metals Mine Supply Threatened - 17 Feb 19
After 8 Terrific Weeks for Stocks, What’s Next? - 16th Feb 19
My Favorite Real Estate Strategies: Rent to Live, Buy to Rent - 16th Feb 19
Schumer & Sanders Want One Thing: Your Money - 16th Feb 19
What Could Happen When the Stock Markets Correct Next - 16th Feb 19
Bitcoin Your Best Opportunity Outside of Stocks - 16th Feb 19
Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera Under SEA Water Test - 16th Feb 19
"Mi Amigo" Sheffield Bomber Crash Memorial Site Fly-past on 22nd February 2019 VR360 - 16th Feb 19
Plunging Inventories have Zinc Bulls Ready to Run - 15th Feb 19
Gold Stocks Mega Mergers Are Bad for Shareholders - 15th Feb 19
Retail Sales Crash! It’s 2008 All Over Again for Stock Market and Economy! - 15th Feb 19
Is Gold Market 2019 Like 2016? - 15th Feb 19
Virgin Media's Increasingly Unreliable Broadband Service - 15th Feb 19
2019 Starting to Shine But is it a Long Con for Stock Investors? - 15th Feb 19
Gold is on the Verge of a Bull-run and Here's Why - 15th Feb 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The Real Secret for Successful Trading

Russia, Venezuela and Argentina Hit Hardest by Financial Crash

Politics / Emerging Markets Oct 31, 2008 - 08:31 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Politics Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleMartin Hutchinson writes: Four months ago, it appeared that three economic “bad actors” were triumphant in their disregard of economic laws and contempt for the United States: Russia, Venezuela and Argentina. Today, while the iron laws of economics have taken a bite out of all of us, they have taken an especially big chunk out of the economies of these bad actors. Unless most of us, the bad actors will not be quick to recover.


That is good news – for U.S. foreign policy, and for those of us who hope that the more befuddled emerging markets will figure out how to run their economies before Malthusian population pressures overwhelm them.

The world does not need to see bad behavior – political or economic – rewarded.

Let's consider a few of the worst players.

Russia's Tactics Backfire

Russia, first, invaded Georgia in August and appeared ready to use its oil-and-gas wealth to rebuild the Soviet military machine, as well as making Western Europe entirely dependent on the whims of its state controlled energy company OAO Gazprombank .

Gazprom's attempts to control energy supplies to Europe included blocking the Nabucco gas pipeline and striking a deal with Libya, Europe's main non-Russian potential supplier. Russian defense spending, too, has quadrupled since 2001 and was continuing to increase rapidly – by 26% in 2009, to more than $50 billion (bear in mind that Russia gets more bang for its ruble because its soldiers are both cheaper and require less maintenance than pampered US and EU forces).

Not any more. The decline in oil prices, halving in three months, has thoroughly destabilized the Russian economy and wrecked its budget picture. Russia has been forced to promise $100 billion to its banking system, without any certainty that this capital injection will solve its problems. Inflation is running at 16%, and will rise further as Russia's foreign exchange reserves are used to prop up the banks. Oleg Deripaska , Russia's richest oligarch, has been forced to sell assets to meet market calls.

Most pathetically, Belarus , previously Russia's most reliable poodle ruled by a wholly unreconstructed autocrat, is making promises of “reform” – if it can get access to International Monetary Fund (IMF) cash.  The RTS stock index is down by around 75% from its peak in June – that makes the roughly 30% decline in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index seem no more than a gentle correction.

Chavez Feels the Pinch

Russia's the most dangerous of the bad actors, because of its nuclear weapons and belligerent foreign policy attitudes, but it's not the only one to face hard times. Venezuela is also facing the pinch – although this Latin American player found the benefits of $147 oil were so fleeting that even Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had failed to spend up to his income (though a 26% increase in dollar spending in the 2009 budget shows he means to try). Inflation is 36%, around the level at which it becomes an overwhelming problem, while oil output has been falling since Chavez replaced the senior management of the oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

The cash crunch has not yet hit home – Chavez is desperately trying to postpone any hardship until after the Nov. 23 local elections – and the stock market is down only 40% from its January 2007 high – although the nationalization of electricity, telecoms and cement has removed a number of stocks from active trading.

Nationalization also hasn't helped electricity service – the country has suffered three nationwide power blackouts this year. You can expect further bad economic news from Venezuela in early December, after the local elections.

Cry For Argentina

Finally, Argentina , which is dependent on a broad range of commodities, has also run into trouble. Argentina defaulted on its international debt in 2002, before forcing bondholders to accept new bonds worth about 30% of face value. It also seized most of its residents' dollar savings: This country seems to succumb to that particular kind of bad-actor behavior about every 10 years.

However, vice had appeared to be rewarded, with 8% annual growth for Argentina in 2003-2007. Inflation is currently running about 25%, but the government solved that problem by forcing out the head of its statistics bureau and making up new inflation numbers, thereby ripping off holders of its inflation-linked bonds.  With the decline in commodity prices, however, the government of Cristina de Kirchner was running into trouble, since it had $20 billion of debt to repay by the end of 2009, even on its written-down schedule.

The government's solution was simple – it nationalized the $30 billion private pension scheme , set up in 1994 by the previous government – to much IMF and economic reformist applause. So much for pensions privatization – in Argentina, it simply gives the government an additional pot of money to steal. With an additional $30 billion available, the Argentine government can carry on spending for at least another year – at the cost of condemning its middle classes to a penurious old age, since few of us have the foresight to save in more than one pension scheme.

Russia is probably the most seriously affected by the oil-price decline, because its ambitions were most expensive. In Venezuela, trouble hasn't really hit yet – or Chavez is keeping it hidden until after the local elections. In Argentina, meanwhile, the bad-acting government has found yet another way to make the middle class pay for the leadership's misdeeds.

However, if oil prices stay below $70 for the next few months, and commodity prices are likewise subdued, we can be confident that even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin , Hugo Chavez and Cristina Kirchner will suffer a very cold winter indeed.

By Martin Hutchinson
Contributing Editor

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2008 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investment advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or 72 hours after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules