China gaining greater influence as lender of last resort for Russia, Argentina and Venezuela

Quotes from the Godfather Movie about Debts and favors owed

Bonasera: How much shall I pay you?
[the Don turns away dismissively, but Bonasera stays on]
Don Corleone: Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.
Bonasera: Be my friend… Godfather.
[the Don at first shrugs, but upon hearing the title he lifts his hand, and a humbled Bonasera kisses the ring on it]
Don Corleone: Good.
[He places his hand around Bonasera in a paternal gesture]
Don Corleone: Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.

Later: This is Tom Hagen, calling for Vito Corleone at his request. Now, you owe your Don a service. He has no doubt that you will repay him. In one hour he will be at your funeral parlor to ask for your help. Be there to greet him.

China Lender of Last Resort for Russia, Venezuela, Argentina
Steffen Reichold, an economist at Stone Harbor Investment Partners in New York, said in an e-mail. “Several countries [Russia, Venezuela, Argentina] are currently in a tight spot and the Chinese are offering to help. That buys them some goodwill and influence, and promotes the use of the yuan.”

China is stepping up its role as the lender of last resort to some of the world’s most financially strapped countries.

Chinese officials signaled Saturday that they are willing to expand a $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia weather the worst economic crisis since the 1998 default. China has provided $2.3 billion in funds to Argentina since October as part of a currency swap, and last month it lent $4 billion to Venezuela, whose reserves cover just two years of debt payments.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is bolstering the country’s influence in the global economy and cutting into the International Monetary Fund’s status as the go-to financier for governments in financial distress. While the IMF tends to demand reforms aimed at stabilizing a country’s economy in exchange for loans, analysts speculate that China’s terms are more focused on securing its interests in the resource-rich countries.

At $3.89 trillion, China holds the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, allowing it to fill the void.

China and Russia signed a three-year currency-swap line of 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) in October, a contract that allows Russia to borrow the yuan and lend the ruble. While the offer won’t relieve the main sources of pressure on the ruble — which has lost 41 percent this year amid plunging oil prices and sanctions linked to Russia’s annexation of Crimea — it could bolster investors’ confidence in the country and help stem capital outflows.

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