Category Archives: Politics

Fitch downgrades Brazilian sovereign rating to BB-

Credit rating agency Fitch today downgraded Brazil’s sovereign rating to “BB-” from “BB”, and changed the outlook from negative to stable.

According to the agency, the cut reflects the persistence of the large fiscal deficit, a high and growing government indebtedness and the failure of legislative reforms that could improve the structural performance of public finances.

S&P Global Ratings had already cut the Brazilian note. Last month, the agency downgraded Brazil’s rating to “BB-“, with a stable outlook.

Fitch noted that “the government’s decision not to put Congressional Pension reform to vote anymore represents a major setback on the reform agenda, which undermines confidence in the medium-term trajectory of public finances and the political commitment to address the issue”.

According to the agency, “the occurrence of a presidential and legislative election in October means that pension reform will only occur after the election and that leaves uncertainties as to whether the next administration will be able to get approval in a timely manner”.

Fitch pointed out in the analysis that the Brazilian fiscal deficit “remains large and with the prospect of only a gradual decline.” For the agency, the deficit reached 8% of GDP in 2017, a result well above the median of 3% for countries in the same Brazilian sovereign note range, “BB”. The agency also projects that the average public deficit will reach 7% of GDP between 2018 and 2019.

Government general debt reached 74% of GDP in 2017, meaning significantly above the 45% of GDP of the bloc countries with a “BB” rating. Fitch predicts that public debt will reach 80% of GDP in 2019 and maintain growth in the coming periods.

According to the agency’s analysts, “social security reform and other spending adjustment measures appear to be essential components of any strategy to facilitate fiscal consolidation, boost confidence in the medium-term public finance trajectory, and make the spending ceiling, an important anchor of fiscal policy, viable and credible in the medium term”.

The agency also commented on the transfer of R$ 130 billion to the government by the BNDES in an operation to repay resources borrowed by the Treasury as a factor that could “ease debt growth this year”. But the agency considered the measure as “insufficient” to stabilize the public sector’s debt path, as it is a one-off event.

Despite calling attention to the uncertainties and challenges associated with the election this year, Fitch said “do not anticipate a turnaround toward greater state interventionism and populism as a result of the campaign.

Read more about Brazilian macroeconomics

Government is now evaluating changes to the pension plan without touching the constitution

After giving up on the Social Security reform – amid federal intervention in the security area of ​​the State of Rio de Janeiro, a measure that prevents changes in the Constitution while it is in force – ministers of the economic area now study changes in pensions that do not depend on constitutional amendments, said journalist Miriam Leitão in her blog on the website of the newspaper “O Globo” and in her participation in TV Globo’s “Bom Dia Brasil” program earlier.

The changes could be made during the federal intervention in Rio without even having to suspend the “state of exception”, says the columnist.

According to her, the ministers have studied measures that can improve the situation of the public accounts without moving on the Brazilian Magna letter. The idea would be to prioritize simpler procedural issues, without depending on the approval of three-fifths of each house of Congress in two rounds, as is the case of amendments.

The focus now would be on rules that change the benefit calculation and bring some fiscal relief in the future.

S&P Downgrades Brazilian Credit Rating to BB-

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Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating from “BB” to “BB-” on Thursday. The rating was already in Junk territory, but it is now three steps below investment grade. On the other hand, the perspective for the rating has changed from negative to stable.

The downgrade was already expected by the market due to difficulties the government is facing to get the pension reform approved.

In the justification for the decision, the agency pointed out as “one of the main weaknesses of Brazil” the delay in approval of fiscal measures that rebalance the public sector accounts.

“Despite several advances by the Temer administration, Brazil has made slower-than-expected progress in implementing significant legislation to address structural fiscal issues and rising levels of indebtedness”, S&P said in a statement, adding that uncertainties of the 2018 elections aggravate this scenario.

In addition to the difficulty in approving reforms with long-term effects, S&P also pointed out that “there have been setbacks even with short-term fiscal measures – such as the decision to suspend the postponement of salary increases for public sector employees”.

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Brazilian CVM Vetoes Acquisition of Bitcoins by Local Investment Funds

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The Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) has decided to not allow local investment funds to directly acquire bitcoins and other criptocurrencies by . On the other hand, the commission does not yet have a conclusion on investments in the modality through funds abroad, in places where the operation is already allowed.

The orientation from the Institutional Investor Relations Superintendency (SIN) is for the market to wait for a later and more conclusive report from the technical area, which should occur only in March.

The regulator’s guidance is in a statement released on Friday (12). The CVM recalls that Brazil and other countries have discussed the legal and economic nature of these investment modalities, without a final conclusion on the concept, especially in the “domestic market and regulation”.

“Thus, based on this uncertainty, the interpretation of this technical area is that the crypto-coins can not be qualified as financial assets … and for this reason, their direct acquisition by the regulated investment funds is not allowed”, says the document.

The CVM also received consultations on the possibility of setting up investment funds in Brazil with the objective of investing in other vehicles abroad that invest in cryptocurrencies. Or, to invest in derivatives created in regulated environments in other jurisdictions.

In the letter, CVM reminds that the existing discussions about the investment in crypto-currencies, either directly by the funds or in other ways, are still at a very incipient level. The document cites Bill 2.303 / 2015, which, if approved, may prevent, restrict or criminalize the negotiation of these investment modalities.

Brazilian stocks and Real fall amid difficulty in approving pension plan reform

Brazilian financial market reacts negatively again to the noise surrounding the pension reform. According to professionals, this morning’s news brought more negative elements about the possibilities of the government being able to approve the reform, which was reflected in the dollar, interest rate hikes and in the fall of the Ibovespa stock index at the opening of the trading session.

But, half an hour after business started, prices have worsened, reacting to comments from House of Representatives president, Rodrigo Maia, that would have expressed a more pessimistic reading regarding the number of votes to approve the reform.

This market behavior confirms the investors’ sensitivity to the pension plan reform news, something that has already been happening in the last sessions and that intensifies as the deadline for voting approaches.

The importance of this reform for the Brazilian stock, currency and interest markets has already been explained in this article from June in this blog.

Petrobras to raise up to US$ 2.3 Billion in IPO of it’s distribution subsidiary

BR Distribuidora, distribution arm of Petrobras (PBR), started yesterday the process that should be the largest IPO since 2013 in Brazil. With the sale of a maximum of 33.75% of its stake in BR, the parent company Petrobras may raise up to R$ 7.5 billion (US$ 2.3 Bi), an important figure for its divestment plan. This estimate takes into account the placement of all lots for sale and the ceiling of the indicative range of price per share, which ranges from R$ 15 to R$ 19, according to the prospectus released yesterday. In the pessimistic scenario, Petrobras would raise R$ 4.4 billion by selling 25% of the shares.

Considering the stock price range disclosed, BR should arrive on the stock exchange on December 15th , with a market cap between R$ 17.5 billion and R$ 22.1 billion (US$ 5.4 bi and 6.7 bi). Despite the expressive absolute valuation, it has a discount ranging from 26% to 40% against the trading multiples of one of its main competitors, Ultrapar, owner of the Ipiranga distribution network.

According to market sources, what explains the discount is the fact that, despite the governance safeguards included in its statute – such as the requirement that half of the directors be independent – the company will remain a state-owned company and, therefore, subject to political interference.

The perception in the market is that BR’s offer will not have demand issues. The question will be the price, to be officially set on December 13. While local managers will bargain discount, but should stay out, foreign investors have already given signs of interest. Because of the discount size offered relative to its peers, BR expects to attract enough demand to close the price between the middle and the ceiling of the range.

Adding the expected market cap range to the net debt of R$ 3.86 billion in September, BR should have company valuation between R$ 21.3 billion and R$ 26 billion. This concept of company valuation assumes that the company’s future cash flow will be shared between its shareholders and creditors.

When dividing this amount by BR’s adjusted profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) in the last 12 months, which was R$ 3 billion, one arrives in multiples of 7.1 times in the floor of the prices per share, 7.9 times at the midpoint and 8.7 times at the peak.

On yesterday’s trading session, Ultrapar’s shares traded at a multiple of 11.8 times its Ebitda in the last 12 months, hence the discount. Ipiranga represents 75% of the consolidated Ebitda of Ultrapar, which is a holding company.

Fitch keeps the Brazilian credit rating at BB, with negative outlook

Fitch Ratings reinforced Brazil’s credit rating on ‘BB’, with a negative outlook. That is, with the possibility of the classification being revised downwards in the future.According to the agency, the country’s ratings is limited by the structural weaknesses in public finances and high government debt, weak growth prospects and weaker governance indicators than the country’s peers, in addition to the recent history of political instability.

These weaknesses, Fitch added, are offset by the economic diversity of Brazil and consolidated civil institutions.

The negative outlook reflects the continuity of uncertainties related to the sustainability and strength of the Brazilian economic recovery, the prospects for medium-term debt stabilization and the progress of the legislative agenda, especially the pension reform.

Fitch expects a modest cyclical recovery in Brazil, with growth accelerating from 0.6% in 2017 to an average of 2.6% during 2018 and 2019. Consumption began to recover, sustained by lower inflation, which drives wage gains, stabilization of the unemployment rate and a recovery of consumer credit. A recovery in investment is also expected in the coming years.

According to the agency, the risks that can cause the government not to reach its fiscal goals in the short term include a weaker economic recovery and the difficulty in cutting public spending, especially in the election year. The implementation of the pension Reform and other adjustments will be necessary to ensure that expenditures meet the target in the medium term.

Fitch projects that Brazilian public debt will continue to grow during the forecasted period, even taking into account the impact of the National Treasury’s loan payments anticipated by the National Development Bank (BNDES) between 2017 and 2018. The agency projects that debt will reach 76% of GDP in 2017 (above the median of the “BB” countries, 45%) and advance to 80% in 2018.

Brazil’s current account deficit is expected to fall below 1% in 2017, according to Fitch projections, and should remain below 2% in the period projected by the agency. The deficit fell 80% during the first nine months of 2017, compared to last year, with the growth of the trade surplus.

Funding of Brazilian companies with debt and equity jumps to R$ 192 billion (US$ 60 bi)

The wind begins to shift to the capital market in the wake of falling interest rates to near historic lows and the contraction of bank credit after two years of deep recession. Since last year, the favorable environment has opened space and consolidates a trend of strong growth for corporate debt issues, along with capital openings and subsequent stock offers, which increasingly assume a major role as a source of financing for large companies .
Between January and September, data from the Brazilian Association of Financial and Capital Market Entities (Anbima) shows that the issuance of fixed income securities in Brazil and abroad by companies plus funding through variable income in the country reached R$ 176.3 billion, or three and a half times the volume of R$ 49.9 billion granted by BNDES in the same period, according to figures from the state bank itself.

For Sergio Goldstein, chairman of Anbima’s corporate finance committee, the expansion is expected to continue in 2018: “the economy probably accelerates next year and thus there’s no way the capital market does not come along.”

A singularly favorable situation fuels this movement of greater participation of the capital market as a source of funds: falling interest rates and prospects that it will remain close to historical lows for a prolonged period, low inflation, growth, albeit gradual, and a change in the policy of subsidized rates by the BNDES.

Should you buy Brazilian stocks right now?

Brazil is in a very binary situation right now and that’s bringing huge volatility. Brazil’s current crisis is a fiscal one. That’s what caused the huge drop up until 2015. The labor party added a lot to the social networking in its 12 years in power and did not do the reforms the country needs, most notably, the pension plan reform. Pension plan deficit represents already 2.8% of the GDP, without change and with an aging population, this number will be unsustainable in as soon as 5 years. The labor party did have its merits in the beginning by taking a lot of Brazilians out extreme poverty but the lack of political power and will to make the reforms, coupled with huge corruption, erased most of its merits. So, comes 2016 and everything changes? Stock market and currency jumps and interest rates go down. The economy must have improved, right? Wrong! The only thing that improved was the expectation. With the rumors and subsequent consolidation of Dilma’s impeachment, the new president, Temer, who has in congress support what he lacks in popularity, was doing all the necessary reforms to the economy. The GDP has not improved yet, but the perspective is great and the price is right.

Then, comes corruption again and now it implicates Michel Temer. Stocks go down 10% and currency another 7%

Short after, markets start to recover thinking that, with or without Temer, the government base in the congress will be the same and the reforms will happen.

Then the binary dilemma: economy will continue to improve if these reforms pass and that seems to be the scenario both with the current president or with one replaced by the congress. In Brazil, if a president and vice president are impeached after two years in power, the replacement is chosen by the congress until the next election. However, there’s strong popular movement and even a proposed constitutional amendment to do direct elections right now and not wait until 2018. If that happens, you could see the labor party or other extremist come up strong and drop the stock market and currency further.

So, will this “diretas já” movement happen? It’s possible. The country is in big disbelief with the political representatives and not without reason. The curious part is that the direct election is what would be the most harmful to the economy and therefore, the population.

Bottom line: if you are looking at the long term: more than 5 years, this is probably a good time to buy. But in the next two years, except a lot of volatility or just remain neutral altogether (my position right now). If you are looking for hedge, you can consider BZQ, an ETF that seeks daily results that correspond to twice (200%) the inverse of the MSCI Brazil Index

Brazil is out of recession. But should you buy it?

President Michel Temer and economic ministers will celebrate the growth of 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of this year, compared to Q4 of 2016, excluding seasonal factors. When they do this, they will actually be celebrating the growth of agriculture and foreign demand (exports). Domestic demand – household consumption and investments – continued to fall and with worse results than expected.In the economists’ estimates, GDP would grow, on average, 0.9% in the first quarter of 2017 QoQ, in the seasonally adjusted series. Here, the recorded growth of 1% was slightly higher. But economists predicted 9.4% growth in agriculture and the GDP brought a rise of 13.4%. In industry, the result was also better, of 0.9% against a forecast of 0.8%. The services sector remained stable, but the expectation was a growth of 0.3%.

It is on the demand side that the GDP has been more frustrating. Economists projected the first increase (of 0.4%) after eight consecutive quarters of falling household consumption. The IBGE indicated, however, a further retraction of 0.1%, postponing the recovery. And the investment retreat was much deeper than expected. Estimates indicated a small decline of 0.3%, but the reality was cruel and the figure was negative at 1.6%. All comparisons are QoQ, minus the seasonal effects.

Weak domestic demand is also clear in trade data, down 0.6% from the end of last year.

The government may even celebrate the outcome, but from the standpoint of indicating a domestic recovery, GDP in the first quarter was worse than expected. And the political crisis and the signal issued yesterday by the Monetary Policy Committee (Copom) that the interest rate down trend will slow down, act to further delay the good news, so long awaited.