ECONOMY

In Brief

Bulgaria plans to lease assets to raise cash Bulgaria will lease airports, railway stations and ports to private companies to raise cash and bring its infrastructure up to European Union levels. The government plans to lease the cargo terminal at the airport in Sofia and seek bidders to run airports in Plovdiv, Gorna Oriahovitsa and Stara Zagora, Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov told reporters yesterday. Portions of Black Sea and Danube River ports will also be leased, as will some train stations. «Some of these ports and airfields are completely outdated and will have to be closed if they are not upgraded soon,» Tsvetkov said in Sofia, the capital. «We aim to attract private investors who will help modernize our transportation infrastructure.» The leasing program is part of a 60-step «anti-crisis» plan to boost the economy that was approved on April 1. Government budget revenue dropped 27 percent in February as the country grappled with its first recession in 13 years. The February deficit was the widest in more than a decade. (Bloomberg) Venezuela has riskiest credit; Greece climbs list LONDON (Reuters) – Venezuela is deemed to be the world’s riskiest sovereign credit while Greece is creeping up the table of sovereigns whose debt is the costliest to insure, credit default swap monitor CMA DataVision said yesterday. CMA’s quarterly survey of credit default swaps (CDS), used to insure against restructuring or default of debt, found Venezuela’s debt insurance costs continue to be the highest, after it outstripped Ukraine in December. Venezuela devalued its currency in January and inflation is running around 25 percent. Venezuela’s CDS are close to 950 basis points, meaning it costs $950,000 a year for five years to insure $10 million of sovereign debt. However, no sovereign CDS are trading above 1,000 bps, typically an indicator of distressed debt, for the first time since the start of the global financial crisis. Investors are showing increasing confidence in sovereigns’ ability to repay debt as the world comes out of recession. Argentina has moved into second place in the riskiest debt table from third, after delays to the country’s planned restructuring of $20 billion in debt, with CDS around 900 bps. Pakistan, whose five-year CDS are quoted at 791 bps, is in third place. Greece, the only eurozone member among the world’s 10 riskiest, has moved into ninth place from 10th, with CDS around 335 bps – one place above Egypt. IMF accusation The International Monetary Fund rejected allegations made by a Czech central banker that it accelerated the impact of the financial crisis to cause the bailout of Central and Eastern Europe. Czech central bank Vice Governor Mojmir Hampl said the IMF’s actions were «obviously a systematic attempt to cause the bailout of the entire region,» according to an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, which was posted on the bank’s website on April 2. The remarks suggesting that the IMF «somehow intensified» the crisis «in the service of its own pecuniary interests – are at variance with the facts, while defying both common sense and the judgment of the international community,» Gerry Rice, deputy director at the IMF’s External Relations Department, said in a letter to Der Standard in response to the interview. (Bloomberg)