Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Fears of Argentine default loom large

Yen, gold gain on trade war angst as Argentine peso slides Argentina default concerns grow after market crash
Russell Knight | 14 August, 2019, 05:38

Argentina's peso and dollar-denominated bonds dropped again Tuesday as market turmoil spilled into a second day following opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez's landslide victory in a primary election that dealt a severe blow to President Mauricio Macri's re-election chances.

The political turmoil, the burden of unpopular economic measures, and the uncertainty of a possible future populist government caused the dramatic slump in the markets with the Argentine stock market falling 35% and the currency dropping 25% of its value against the US dollar after a surprise primary election result.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri speaks from the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.

The primary elections to select presidential candidates occurred two months ahead of the first round of the general elections scheduled for October 27.

Argentina last defaulted on its debt in 2001, an event which sparked years of recessions and economic crises.

Argentina's country risk rose 164 basis points to 1,631, the highest since 2009.

It deepened worries his populist opponent, Alberto Fernandez, and Fernandez's running mate, former president Cristina Fernandez, will try to renegotiate its debts as well as its agreements with the International Monetary Fund. This, in turn, negatively affected the peso and pushed the citizens of Argentina to invest in cryptocurrency.

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"The market is starting to price in default", said Edwin Gutierrez, the London-based head of emerging-market sovereign debt at Aberdeen Asset Management. The 15-point lead was much larger than investors had expected, Bloomberg reported.

There are another US$18.6 billion in bond principal, loans and interest payments issued in pesos.

Yields on the benchmark USA 10-year Treasury notes hit session highs, while those on 30-year Treasury bonds rallied from more than three-year lows.

As happened in Venezuela, Turkey, and wherever massive inflation or big devaluation of the national currency occurs, also in Argentina people are now looking at ways to secure their finances and move away from a currency too insecure and risky to keep at current times. It was also punctuated by another default that made the country an worldwide pariah for years. The company expects to cut its exposure further on Argentine bonds once prices stabilise, he said.

Concerns that a trade deal would not be reached before the 2020 USA presidential election grew after Goldman Sachs on Sunday became the latest to cut its United States growth outlook and warn a trade stand-off would fester past the election.

In a press conference Monday, Macri said he still has a shot to reverse the trend in October and that his economic team is working on measures to address voter concerns on the economy.

"Fitch kept Italy's rating unchanged and some market participants may be betting that a snap election could be delayed", said DZ Bank rates strategist Sebastian Fellechner, referring to the fall in yields.

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