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A Venezuelan protester with "Freedom" painted on her face. Photo: Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Investors hoping for the removal of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may get more good news this week. The Trump administration signaled it may impose new sanctions against the country's oil sector — the lifeblood of Venezuela's economy and only major source of revenue.

Driving the news: The news followed the announcement Wednesday the U.S. would recognize Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's National Assembly, as the country's president, not Maduro.

  • "If things change in Venezuela it would be a tremendous opportunity," Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore told me late last year. He predicted Venezuela's bonds could double in price if a new president takes office.

The big picture: The country’s sovereign bond maturing in 2027 rose on Wednesday to its highest level since June. That’s notable considering the 2027 bond, and all but one of Venezuela’s other bonds, have been in default since November 2017.

  • "There's a tremendous rally happening with the expectation that regime change leads to eventual restructuring of these bonds," said a fund manager from a major firm who asked not to be identified because he’s not permitted to discuss Venezuela’s debt. "The market is pricing in Maduro's exit as closer than we previously thought."

What's next? The oil sanctions may be the final nail in the coffin of a leader who has presided over an economy expected to hit 10,000,000% inflation this year with a 90% poverty rate.

My thought bubble: Maduro's ouster could be an inflection point in the country's history, but it will take a lot of work to turn what's effectively become a failing narco/petro-state into a functioning economy.

  • Venezuela owes international creditors an estimated $150 billion. A new regime will need to come to terms with creditors in order to be given access to international credit markets again and start rebuilding.
  • The country is producing oil at a 70-year low and analysts believe it could be three to five years before it is able to pump oil at its potential rate again.
  • There would almost certainly need to be a bailout from the IMF, which hasn't even been allowed to enter the country in years. Simply assessing Venezuela's needs could take years and the economy could continue to falter even after an aid package is administered.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Lawmakers call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire amid aerial bombardments

Combination images of Republican Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images/Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and 28 Senate Democrats on Sunday called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as fighting continued into the night.

Driving the news: Young, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, joined panel Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in a bipartisan statement saying: "Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing.

Bill Gates faces scrutiny over relationship with Microsoft employee, Epstein ties

Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives for Bill Gates pushed back on claims Sunday that he left Microsoft's board because of an earlier sexual relationship and against two other reports detailing more extensive ties with Jeffrey Epstein than had previously been reported.

Driving the news: Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Axios that it "received a concern" in 2019 that its co-founder "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," but denied a Wall Street Journal report that its board members thought Gates should resign over the matter.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.