Brazil is hot (especially it’s currency), but unlike with China you almost never hear any chatter about it being on an unsustainable path.
That alone is probably reason to pay close attention. As Nassim Taleb would tell you, crises don’t come from places where everyone and their mother is anticipating a crisis.
Not that Brazil is in any imminent trouble, but it’s interesting that the government seems to be engaging in accounting tricks to hit its budget goals.
President Lula has called the Petrobras capitalisation plan, worth $69 billion, “the biggest equity offer in the history of capitalism.”
But of that $69 billion, $43.5 billion came from Petrobras itself, to pay the government for 5 billion barrels of undeveloped ultradeepwater petroleum reserves, and that in turn was paid for using a government loan.
Felipe Salto, a specialist in public accounts at the Sao Paulo consultancy Tendencias, told MNI the government loan to Petrobras was “an ingenious piece of financial engineering.”
In sum, for $43.5 billion of the $69 billion capitalisation, no money changed hands, as the company essentially gave the government shares in return for the petroleum reserves.
However, R$24.7 billion ($14.4 billion) of the government’s loan to Petrobras came via the state BNDES development bank. The government is lending $14.4 billion to the BNDES, which it is lending it to Petrobras, to pay the government. But government accountants are booking this $14.4 billion as revenue.
Look, Brazil is still running a surplus, so its government probably won’t have a funding crisis. But the fact that the goal was only hit via a one-off accounting move is an early warning.
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