Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won a sham election last year after deposing or intimidating his legitimate challengers. He begins his second six-year term Thursday, much to the chagrin of 85% of Venezuelans, international humanitarian aid organizations and most of the world's leaders.
While many nebulously blame "socialism" for Venezuela's dire condition, the truth is that the country's problems are a result of corruption and wide-ranging economic incompetence from Maduro's government
Why it matters: Humanitarian crisis aside, Venezuela owes international creditors an estimated $150 billion.
Here's a short list of problems Maduro will face in his second term, most of his own creation:
Despite having recently defaulted on billions of dollars worth of debt and holding the lowest possible grades from ratings agencies, Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA's bonds maturing in 2020 are trading near full par value.
Between the lines: The 2020 PDVSA bonds have actually increased in value as the Venezuelan government and the state oil company have defaulted on their other debt.
Despite yields well below 3% (where they were as recently as November) Wednesday's 10-year Treasury note auction was very strong, with direct bidders taking double their average and the highest level since 2015.
Why it matters: Direct bidders include foreign buyers and U.S. institutions that don't do business directly with the Federal Reserve, so they're not compelled to buy government debt. The results show U.S. Treasuries are still very attractive, analysts say. But that may not be a good thing.
Bottom line: While most economists have predicted slowing U.S. and global growth in 2019, Jeffery warns, "You would have to imagine there are at least some in the market playing for something more ominous."
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has upped his bid for some of the failed company's stores to $5 billion, hoping to shield it from liquidation, Reuters reports.
Our thought bubble from Courtenay Brown: Look at this brief timeline of Sears in the 21st century:
Go deeper: The cannibal of Sears
Shares of Constellation Brands, which took a major stake in marijuana producer Canopy Growth last year, fell to a two-year low after the company cut its 2019 profit forecast, Courtenay writes.
What they're saying: Bill Newlands, incoming CEO of Constellation Brands, stressed that he was committed to cannabis on the company's earnings call Wednesday.
"We believe the emerging cannabis space represents one of the most significant global growth opportunities of the next decade, and frankly, our life time."
What they're not saying: The vultures are circling cannabis companies and spending big for the airspace. Bearish investors are paying as much as 900% to take short positions against cannabis company Tilray, data from financial analytics firm S3 Partners show.
That means to rent out one share of Tilray, which closed at $79.70 on Tuesday, shorts are paying more than $700.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will be forced to present a new Brexit plan within three days if her current proposal is voted down next week, as most onlookers expect. That's thanks to a procedural amendment passed Wednesday night.
The problem is that no one in Parliament seems to like anything when it comes to Brexit.
"As the exit debate in Parliament begins everyone has a no. No to May's Brexit deal, no to emergency taxing power, no to leaving without a agreement, no to a second vote, no to further negotiation, no to extending article 50.
The only yes is March 29th."— Joseph Trevisani, senior analyst at FXStreet
North American financial executives are not optimistic about future growth anywhere, Deloitte's new survey of 140 CFOs found.
Yes, but: The sharp declines in optimism about the global economy aren't affecting companies' plans for international expansion. In the fourth quarter, CFOs said they were slightly more focused on growing in new geographies than in previous quarters.
*Editor's note: A note in situational awareness was corrected to show Reuters reported VW is spearheading a $300 billion spend on EVs (not $300 million).