There are plenty of reasons why BlueBay Asset Management LLP cut its holding in Venezuelan bonds, from the empty shelves in the supermarkets of Caracas to a nationwide dearth of spare auto parts.
But few were more compelling than the satellite photograph of Puerto Cabello on the Caribbean coast, home to the country’s biggest port, which shows a once-vibrant terminal bereft of vessels.
“If you can see a country’s economic decline from space, you know it’s in big trouble,” said Graham Stock, the head of emerging-market sovereign research in London at BlueBay, which reduced its holdings of the nation’s debt to below-benchmark levels. He estimates Venezuela’s imports have declined by as much as 50 percent in the last two years.
The investment company that manages $50 billion dismissed warning signs last year about Venezuela’s ailing economy and bought the country’s dollar debt, which returned about 50 percent in 2016, Stock said. But the government…