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Expand chart
Data: Institute of International Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Venezuela has ratcheted up its debt over the past few years, even as the country has been officially cut off from international credit markets and is facing U.S. sanctions.

What's happening: A new debt estimate from the Institute of International Finance finds the country has been issuing a steadily growing pile of debt through state-owned oil company PDVSA and private debt deals with the likes of China and Russia. But the central government also has managed to run up significant debt.

  • Venezuela's debt stock rose from around $62 billion in 2007 to nearly $156 billion last year, IIF's economists estimate.

Details: IIF economists tracked debt to exports and found that Venezuela's external debt is about 738% of its exports. That's more than 4 times the average for comparable emerging and frontier markets. It's also more than 200% higher than the level of debt to exports IIF estimated Venezuela carried just 2 years ago.

  • The next closest country is Tajikistan, which issued its first ever bond in 2017 for $500 million.
  • Because Venezuela hasn't kept reliable economic data for years and has barred bodies like the IMF and World Bank from conducting their own research, it's not even possible to determine Venezuela's debt to GDP ratio.

On the bright side: Nomura's head of Latin America fixed income strategy, Siobhan Morden, tells Axios she expects that Venezuela will be in much better position to pay off investors once a new government is in place.

  • "When bonds are repaid in 10 years or so the ability to repay should be much higher if you assume that they can recover oil production."

Go deeper ... Oil Sanctions: the "tremendous opportunity" in Venezuela

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