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Friday, May 9, 2014

A tale of two Latin Americas

Argentina & Venezuela versus everyone else. This is the tale that keeps on giving. How different are they!

Picture 1;  Foreign exchange. Over the last five years the price of the USD has gone up 200% in terms of Venezuelan Bolivares and over 100% in the case of the Argentine peso. The rest of Latin AMerica has remained very stable. Chile, Peru and Brazil exhibit changes of less than 10%. (Data from Stable FX=> stable prices and volumes of international trade. A depreciating peso means cheap (and very good) Argentinean wine for USA but expensive CAT tractors for Argentine farmers.

Picture2; Sovereign Spreads. Sovereign spreads measure how much (above US treasury bonds) do countries have to pay to borrow money. Low spread = good, high spread = bad. Spreads are measured in basis points. For example, If the governments of Chile, Brazil or Peru need money to finance short term programs, or any other projects, they can borrow for 1 year at less than 30 basis points of spread. If the US treasury is say 3%, this means that the total cost for the above countries would be around 3.3%. For Venezuela and Argentina the same borrowing would cost them 10% and 25% respectively.  Data from Factset.