Today, December 15, 2009, we’ll know for sure if Ecuador has defaulted on some of its bonds. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa threatened to do this once before…and did not.
This time I believe he will.
This will be good…for many…because despite the default, Ecuador’s sun will not go away.
Nor will the beauty of Ecuador’s mountains like this one we climbed.
Nor will it stop the smiles of Ecuador’s happy people like these potato farmers we met on the hike.
Nor will the hard working energy of the crafts people in town like Otavalo (shown here) cease.
Nor the richness of the land like this Intag forest go away.
Ecuador’s bond default may create profits in two ways….one in the global bond market. The other gain will be in Ecuador.
Many readers have sent me a link to last week’s Bloomberg December 12, 2009 article by Stephan Kueffner which says:
Correa Defaults on Ecuador Bonds, Seeks Restructuring. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa halted payment on foreign bonds he calls “illegal” and “illegitimate,” putting the South American country in default for a second time in a decade.
The government won’t make a $30.6 million interest payment by Dec. 15, when a month long grace period expires, Correa told reporters in his office in Guayaquil. The $510 million bonds due in 2012 plunged to 23 cents on the dollar from 31 yesterday and 97.5 cents three months ago.
“I have given the order that interest payments not be made,” Correa said. “The country is in default.”
Though Ecuador is a small country, the size of France, with about 11 million people, its bond default may slow the recovery of the bond market during this global economic downturn.
Latin Bonds already have strong yields. Look at the high yields on medium term denominated in US euro and US dollars!
Currency Bond Country Yield
EUR 8.5 24/09/2012 BRAZIL 7.49%
EUR 7.375 03/02/2015 BRAZIL 8.38%
EUR 11.5 31/05/2011 COLOMBIA 8.17%
EUR 5.375 10/06/2013 MEXICO 7.28%
EUR 7.5 14/10/2014 PERU 9.02%
USD 10.25 17/06/2013 BRAZIL 6.24%
USD 8.25 22/12/2014 COLOMBIA 7.42%
USD 9.875 06/02/2015 PERU 7.57%
Ecuador owes about $10 billion to bondholders, multilateral lenders and other countries…not a lot by global standards…but Ecuador’s bond default could cause a ripple down in Latin bonds and create even higher yields. If so, I’ll buy some today.
The bonds and yields above are from Jyske Bank’s bond list of last Friday. These are indications not recommendations. You can get up-to-date bond information from:
US investors at Jyske Global Asset Management. Contact Thomas Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Non US Investors at Jyske Bank. Contact Rene Mathys at email@example.com
The next opportunity is in Ecuador. Many readers have asked questions like:
Ecuador is defaulting on its bonds. Any problems because of this? Is this good or bad?
This is a question much like, “Is the US federal $800 billion bail out, good or bad?”
The answer is yes and no.
First, remember that Ecuador defaulted on bonds once before in 1999. Everything fell apart. Bank’s shut down. The country ran out of gas. Times were terrible.
The country remained a great place to live. The cost of living collapsed. Help was easy to get. You could buy real estate for a song. So the answer to “Is this good or bad?” depends on who you are, how much money you have and where it is invested.
The Bloomberg article points out that Correa says of the default:
“I couldn’t allow the continued payment of a debt that by all measures is immoral and illegitimate,” Correa said. “It is now time to bring in justice and dignity.”
A debt commission Correa formed last year said in a 172 page report in November that the global bonds due in 2012 and 2030 “show serious signs of illegality,” including issuance without proper government authorization. Correa invoked the 30- day grace period on the interest payment last month, saying he wanted to analyze the commission’s findings.
Correa, 45, said the government will present a restructuring proposal in coming days. “We want creditors to recoup part of their money,” he said.
Personally I think this is true, but is the wrong approach. I have long been a defender of Correa. He is much like Barrack Obama, young, smart, energetic, from a poor background, who worked his way to the top with a mandate made possible by minorities….based on promises that probably cannot be kept.
He is trying to make improvements..but can he?
Obama cannot change the previous American debt and some of that US debt, in my opinion, is as immoral and illegitimate as can be. If previous Ecuadorian politicians broke the law and created incorrect loans…Correa and the people of Ecuador should punish them. They should recoup what they can from those people…but to punish lenders will simply stop lenders from lending to Ecuador. This will hurt the nation, long term, as a whole.
The Bloomberg article goes on to say:
“Ecuador is a serial defaulter,” said Arturo Porzecanski, an international finance professor at American University in Washington. “They defaulted in the 1980s, 1990s and this decade. A lot of other countries have had one or two defaults, but Ecuador tops them all.”
Correa, who holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has said he will not sacrifice spending on health and education to pay the debt. Ecuador’s foreign obligations are equal to 21 percent of its $44 billion gross domestic product. Argentina’s debt, by comparison, was equivalent to 150 percent of its GDP when it defaulted in 2001, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Oil, which has plunged 67 percent since July amid the global financial crisis, accounts for about 60 percent of Ecuador’s exports. Finance Minister, Maria Elsa Viteri, said on Nov. 18 the country’s fiscal accounts remain “strong and healthy.” Ecuador had $5.65 billion in cash reserves as of Dec. 5, according to the Central Bank.
The default was triggered by the combination of the decline in oil with “a ridiculous ideology,” said Claudio Loser, the former director of the International Monetary fund’s Western Hemisphere department, who now is a scholar at the Inter- American Dialogue. “The financial need wasn’t so great that it was forced to declare a default,” Loser said.
The South American country has defaulted six times since it separated from Gran Colombia in 1830, according to “Debt Defaults and Lessons from a Decade of Crises,” a book published in 2007 by Federico Sturzenegger and Jeromin Zettelmeyer.
“It’s a final blow to external investors, and particularly any energy investors that may have retained interest or had future plans to attempt an investment in Ecuador,” said Enrique Alvarez, head of Latin America fixed-income research at IDEAglobal Inc. in New York.
I believe this default will hurt Ecuador’s overall economy…and help expats who live and invest there in small ways. When economic conditions drop, prices become lower. Labor is easier to find. Everyone is more willing to serve and work hard…if you have money.
Merri and I were living in Ecuador when the sucre collapsed falling from 3,000 sucres per dollar to 24,000 sucres per dollar. This roller coaster reduced the cost of food, clothing, shelter, staff, everything local. Wages were down. Bargains were everywhere!
Merri and I were loved because we stayed. We spent. We provided jobs.
Life can actually be better in hard times…especially if you have your income and investments OUT of the depressed country.
There is a caveat. If conditions deteriorate too far, law and order can break down. Short term this will make Ecuador’s life better. They won’t have the loan to repay…but long term, as they become more isolated from the global economy, this will hurt.
Ecuadorians are basically friendly, non violent people so I do not have any great concern about this. This is based on experience. I have lived in places where people were not quite as easy going, like Hong Kong in the 1960s when there were riots and bombing in the streets.
My belief if that Ecuador will remain a great place to be…especially for now.
Join us at a course in Cotacachi or on Ecuador’s coast this winter.
Here is our latest group inspecting the hotel,which is one block from the Ecuador’s Pacific.
We’ll view this hotel if it has not sold. It has a huge front porch.
Large second floor veranda with ocean views.
Beautiful flowered front yard.
The building is really rough and needs work…but over 8,000 square feet of building. The asking price is $60,000.
We have sent our Ecuador Living paid subscribers more details on this building on this Ecuador hotel for sale. If you subscribe, you can have this report. See how to subscribe to Ecuador Living here.
Join us for our next Spanish course ad real estate tours.
Join us at a course in Cotacachi or on Ecuador’s coast this winter.
Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 27 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009 and how to attend as many of them as you like FREE.
The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the
course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito.
Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual