As it deals with the economic slowdown and a plunge in oil prices, Norway has turned to its massive sovereign wealth fund in order to cover 2016 budget deficits, in continuation of a trend noted here first last October. As Bloomberg reports, the country withdrew $898 million in March from the fund, putting the year-to-date total at roughly $3.1 billion, a run rate that is higher than the estimate the central bank governor gave just this past February.
Despite oil's rebound off cyclical lows and the world's exuberance that the energy space may be saved (on the basis of headline-reading algos pumping momentum into commodity futures products that only leveraged Chinese speculators could find value in), something ugly is occurring in Saudi Arabian money-markets.There appears to be a growing funding squeeze in The Kingdom as 3-month interbank rates spike above 2% for the first time since Jan 2009 prompting King Salman to approve a 'post-oil economic plan'.
Saudi officials indicated they would sell its dollar-denominated assets if the law passed to avoid having those assets frozen by American courts. But does Saudi Arabia even have $750 billion of assets to sell? For the answer we go to Stone McCarthy who note that while they can't answer that question definitively - recall that the exact amount of Saudi Treasury holdings remains a mystery as it is not broken out separately - here's what they do know from the Treasury International Capital (TIC) data.
Almost exactly two years ago, in April 2014, Greece issued €2.5 billion in 5 year bond yielding around 5%, which was met with huge investor interest and ended up being 8x oversubscribed. Fast forward to today when another former shutout from global bond markets, Argentina, is in the FT's words, "on the cusp of one of the most anticipated comebacks in recent history, as the Latin American country ends a 15-year exile from the international debt market with a multibillion-dollar sale." This issue is likewise oversubscribed, and according to Reuters there are already $40 billion in roders for the $15 billion offering.
Hungary priced the three-year bond at a yield of 6.25%, raising 1 billion yuan ($154 million), a small size for a sovereign deal. Bankers not involved in the transaction estimate that if Hungary issued debt in U.S. dollars and swapped the proceeds into yuan, it would have paid almost 1% less in annual interest costs. The dim-sum market isn’t an appealing market right now. Issuance of offshore yuan bonds has been falling consistently since Beijing’s decision to devalue its currency by 2% in August last year—the prospect of another yuan devaluation has sapped much of the appeal of such bonds for offshore investors.
Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Japan is heading for a full-blown solvency crisis as the country runs out of local investors and may ultimately be forced to inflate away its debt in a desperate end-game, one of the world’s most influential economists has warned. "One day the BoJ may well get a call from the finance ministry saying please think about us – it is a life or death question - and keep rates at zero for a bit longer."
Moments ago, in the first of two closely anticipated and watched votes, a special committee in Brazil's lower house voted 38 to 27 to begin the impeachment process against president Dilma Rousseff. But while the first key step in Rousseff's ouster has been taken, there is a long road ahead for the process and Dilma will not go quietly or without a fight.
Will the Fed be able to keep the game going? In a word, no. We’ve already seen that even the tiniest of interest rate hikes has gone hand in hand with a huge drop in the markets. Furthermore, the Fed’s subsidies to the banks are now on the order of $11 billion annually, but if they want to raise the fed funds rate to, say, 2 percent, then the annual payment would swell to more than $40 billion.
With only four month to go until the Brazil summer olympics, only half of the tickets have been sold. Brazil’s new minister of sports Ricardo Leyser suggested that the Brazilian government may purchase tickets that will be distributed to public schools. He said public officials must also work to boost worldwide confidence in Rio's ability to host the games and ensure travelers' safety.