Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Adapted from a Bloomberg map; Map: Axios Visuals

It is tempting to paint the competing factions backing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and newly declared President Juan Guaido as East vs. West or socialist vs. capitalist, but the real delineation is about the money.

On one side: Most of the official bonds, around $65 billion worth issued by Venezuela and state oil company PdVSA, are held by investors in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Almost all of those bonds have been in default since November 2017.

  • Investors in North America and Europe are largely still holding the bonds. The odds of them being paid increase greatly if Maduro is replaced as president by someone who will seek help from the IMF and look to issue debt again on global credit markets. None of that can happen until an agreement is made with bondholders.

(This situation played out perfectly for investors when Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina and settled almost immediately with that nation's creditors on terms that were very favorable.)

The other side: China and Russia have enjoyed an off-the-books arrangement with Venezuela wherein the nation with the world's largest proven oil reserves ships them crude in exchange for discounted payment of outstanding debts and fresh cash.

  • Maduro also has signed over portions of the country's oil industry to China and sold discounted oil to Cuba, likely in exchange for that country's armed forces protection.
  • Turkey for some time has been supplying products for food packets to Venezuelan officials. Venezuela also ships gold to Turkey and the 2 countries recently announced joint ventures for gold and coal exploration.
  • U.S. officials allege Venezuela has been sidestepping sanctions and sending gold to Iran in exchange for cash and debt relief.

These agreements would be in question under a new president who was backed by the U.S., Europe and the IMF. Iran and Russia also benefit from Venezuela's greatly reduced oil-production capacity, which props up crude prices.

Closer to home: Latin America's 2 major country alliances — Mercosur, which includes Venezuela but does not recognize Maduro, and Allianza Pacifico — have denounced Venezuela for years. Maduro's assault on democracy threatened international trade agreements and 3 million displaced Venezuelan emigrants have spilled into neighboring countries causing economic and political strain.

  • Bolivia's president Evo Morales and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador have stood with Maduro but also against a long tradition of U.S. intervention in Latin America.

The bottom line: Venezuela previously funded itself through debt financing and oil sales, but as the cost for Maduro to stay in power rose — with higher bond payments and more security — and he ran low on U.S. dollars he looked for partners who would take alternative payments. Those partners are now invested in him holding power, while defaulted creditors are invested in his removal.

Go deeper

The separate and unequal paths in business

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.

GOP state legislatures move to assert control over election systems

Contractors in Phoenix in May 2021 recounting ballots as part of a 2020 general election audit requested by the Arizona State Senate. Photo: Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post

Republican-held state legislatures have passed bills that give lawmakers more power over the vote by stripping secretaries of state of their power, asserting control over election boards and creating easier methods to overturn election results, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The bills, triggered by baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, threaten to politicize traditionally non-partisan election functions by giving Republicans more control over election systems.