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Last Update: 5/16/99 Brazil, Questions & Quotes, Argentina

Sources for Charts and Table: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, 1997-1999. Standard & Poor's D.R.I; World Bank Debtor Reporting System.

Background: Price of Money, Hedge Funds, Selling Short,

Skating on Melting Ice
SKATING Anonymous, Paris, 1930's
Rates & Reserves : Created: 8/28/98. Last Update: 3/12/99
Country Foreign Exchange Reserves ($,Billions) Short-Term Interest Rates Inflation Rate
Hong Kong 9/98: $81


(China's reserves in wings to help.)

8/98: ?

10/97: 20%


11/28/98 Economy contracted 7% in 3rd quarter. Stock market has risen 54% from recent low. Reserves have begun to recover as well, to a reported $88.7 billion.

Land sales suspended in June. New restrictions on short-selling. Now engaged in a war to outmaneuver hedge funds speculating against currency.

Government has also spent $15 Billion in reserves in August to support stock market.

China 8/98:~$140
Will they devalue?

1/14/99: Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corporation (Gitic) in bankruptcy. Chinese government announces it will not bail out foreign creditors, allowing bankruptcy to proceed. Worry grows that some China-linked companies are burdened by huge, hidden debts.

Gitic is a Hong Kong- listed financial company based in Guangdong Province where bankruptcy law is untested and foreign banks have made loans based on "winks and nods from Chinese officials. (NYT, 1/14/99, p. C6)

8/98: China now attracts more than a third of all the investment in factories and other manufacturing plants in developing nations, attracting $42 billion last year.

Japan 8/98: ?

6/97: $222


9/9/98: Overnight rate reduced to .25% (compared to 5.5% in US)

8/28:Long Term Bond yield is 1.07%, the lowest recorded rate in history. Previous low was 1.125% offered by Italian city state of Genoa in 1619.

Japan fights deflation as economy contracts.

Economy contracted 5.3 % in 1st quarter of 1998, 3.3% in 2nd quarter, 2.6 % in 3st quarter, and 3.2% in 4th quarter. $830 billion spent by government in last year to stimulate economy.

Debt rising quickly.

Japan's cumulative national debt is larger than its gross domestic product. The U.S. national debt is just half its GDP. (Associated Press, 2/20/99)

National and local government debt has risen from 3.7% of GDP in 1996, to an estimated 9.8% for fiscal year ending in March, 1999. In 2000, Japan faces redemption of ~$833 billion in 10-year bonds, compared to this year's redemption of ~$150 billion.

11/21/98: Government puts in place a $500 billion support program for financial institutions, which face an estimated $650 billion in bad debt. Goverment coalition supports $200 billion economic package to stimulate economy.

As yen finally strengthens against the dollar, overnight bank rate reduced .5 to .25%. Government pouring $120 billion into economy and also prepared to print yen to restore liquidity.

Banks shortage of capital may impede foreign operations.

Banking system needs bailout and reform, especially the Long-Term Credit Bank with $182 Billion in assets. Estimates of funds needed for bailout as high as $200 billion.

10/5/98: Masuaru Hayami, governor of Bank of Japan, tells Treasury Secretary Rubin and US Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan that 19 major Japanese banks face acute capital shortages that might prevent them from operating internationally "if the rules were vigorously inforced.". Other senior Japanese official dispute Mr. Hayami's presentation. Reserve levels hinted at range from less than 8% to less than 4% of outstanding loans. (NYT, 10/5/98)


Russia 4/99: $10.8

8/98: $5.5 of which ~$4.5 is gold.

6/98: $10

5/98: $14

10/97: $23




5/98: 90% for Treasuries 7/98:~1%


Largest cities suffering from total disconnect between public and private economies. Legal and regulatory systems in shambles. Government cannot collect taxes, yet is responsible for social goods, foreign debt. Private economy functions in dollars and goods (barter).

Provincial heartland coping better? "In Moscow, less than half the working-age population pays any taxes...In Orel, the figure is more than 90 percent."

$8.5 Billion spent to support ruble in last month alone.

~$10 Billion loan balance from IMF promised over the next year, if reform proceeds.

Russian male life expectancy has dropped:

1989: 64 years

1997: 57 years

Latin America buys ~15-20% of US Exports. Many of these countries have instituted substantial reforms in the last few years. However...
Country Foreign Exchange Reserves ($,Billions) Short-Term Interest Rates Inflation Rate

























1/23/99: $26.

10/14/98: $45

9/24/98: $47.

9/11/98: $55.

9/4/98 : $58.

8/28/98: $70.



5/12/99: 27%

4/14/99: 34%

3/5/99: 45%

2/4/99: 39%

1/30/99: 37% 


9/20/98: Interbank loan rate doubles from 24.75% to 49.75%.

9/9/98: 29.75%

8/98: 19.75%

6/98: 22.2%

9/97: 41%





5/12/99: Brazil's Central Bank lowers interest rate to 27%. Economy grows 1% in first quarter, led by agricultural exports. Unemployment in Sao Paolo, Brazil's richest city, is 20%.

4/16/99: Brazil still teetering, but not falling. Budget deficit has risen to 14% of GDP since currency float, up from 8% at end of 1998. But inflation has slowed, and Brazil is preparing to sell $3.75 billion in dollar-denominated bonds, returning to global debt markets for first time since Russian default last summer. Fraga has lowered Central Bank interest rate from 45% to 34%.

3/5/99: Currency down 40% since early January float. Fraga raises interest rates to 45% to fight inflation. Harvard's Jeffrey Sachs thinks rates should be cut to 20% to spur job growth and slow rising internal debt burden . (NYT, 3/5/99, p. C4)

2/19/99 Brazil officially in recession for first time in six years, after two consecutive quarterly drops in Gross Deomestic Product (GDP). Bloomberg survey of 10 economists predicts 4.1% contraction in 1999.

Former aide to George Soros, Arminio Fraga, appointed new Central Bank president

2/4/99: Currency down 30% since early January. Reserves are down to ~$26 billion, currently declining at a rate of ~$1/2 billion/day.

1/18/99: Brazil floats its currency: "When currencies float, economies sink" (NYT, 1/2/99, Era May End For Floating Currencies by Joseph Kahn)

1/13/99: Brazil devalues currency by 8%. Director of Central Bank resigns.

$1.2 billion of reserves left country yesterday.

1/6/99: Governor of Minas Gerais announces 3 month moratorium on $13.5 billion debt owed to the central government.

Brazil's states owe their federal government about $40 billion in payments due this year. (NYT, de Goes, 1/14/99) Central government service on foreign debt will amount to about $50 billion in the next year.

12/3/98: Brazilian panic over? Not quite.

President Cardosa wins reelection, proposes measures to reduce the domestic deficit, which is ~7% of GDP.

Industrial nations to provide contingency fund of $42 billion to protect the world's ninth largest economy. But bailout has risks.

Government hopes to speed sale of Petrobras and Banco do Brasil:"Despite financial turmoil, foreign corporations still express great interest in purchasing strategic concerns from the Brazilian government." (ING Barings, 9/18/98)

9/20: Unemployment in Sao Paolo, the heart of Brazil's modern economy, is 19%. Reserves outflow has slowed in recent days to under $500 million per day. Interbank loan rate doubles to 49.75%.

9/10/98: Stock market plunges 16%.

9/9/98 JP Morgan estimates economy will shrink 2% this year. Those predicting growth peg it at under 2%.

Interest rates are down from 41% last fall, when extraordinarily high returns were used to defend currency. But now they are rising again.

9/5/98: Average of $1.3 Billion/day since 9/1 estimated to have been spent defending Real, which may to be ~10-20% overvalued.

Argentina 1/99: $24.0

8/98: $23.7

6/98: 6.2%
1/99: Will Argentina adopt the dollar as its currency?

9/2/98: Argentina uses a Currency Board to stabilize peso by linking it to U.S. dollar. Russian minister meeting today with Argentine counterpart to discuss how they do it.

Mexico 7/98: $30.7  

9/1: Annual rate for overnight Treasuries ("cetes") climb to 38%. 8/31 auction canceled.

8/28: 27.2% for 28 day Treasuries

6/1: "Short-Term" rates reported at 21%



World oil prices are depressed. Oil revenues make up 37% of Government's income. Expenditures have been trimmed, so that the budget is running small surplus.

Weak banking system requires multi-billion dollar bailout. Plan now being debated within Mexico.

Venezuela 8/98: $11.

7/98: $14.3


8/98: 100+%

6/98: 42%


$1/2 Billion sold last week of August to defend currency which is still considered ~30% overvalued.

Oil accounts for 77% of Venezuelan exports and 57% of government's income.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) 8/98:$10-$13 unallocated
Wants an $85 Billion infusion from donor nations, including $18 Billion from the United States. (8/98)
Total value of New York Exchange Stocks
8/27/98:~$10 Trillion




Created 8/30/98. Last updated Sunday, May 16, 1999

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