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Debt financing rollercoaster: Latin American and Caribbean access to international bond markets since the debt crisis, 1982-2012

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UN symbol.: LC/G.2570-P ISBN: 9789211218350 (printed) 135 p. : grafs., tabls. Editorial: ECLAC September 2013


This report examines how the access of Latin American and Caribbean countries to external debt financing has evolved in the three decades since the debt crisis of 1982. In these thirty years, as the global financial environment evolved and structural shifts took place in the region, the market for Latin American and Caribbean tradable debt opened, deepened and broadened, developing from an unsecuritized loan market in the 1980s to a robust and improved securitized bond market by the end of the period. The study highlights how bond financing today is very different from what it was in the 1980s and 1990s and how access to external bond financing has become more widespread and less costly. Through the analysis of the forces behind the evolution of spreads, issuance and credit ratings, the report shows that by the end of 2012, debt spreads had declined considerably from the high levels prevalent in the late 1990s and early 2000s; the composition of debt issuance had shifted from sovereigns to the corporate sector and to local markets; debt was issued on a broader range of currencies; credit quality had improved substantially; and Latin American and Caribbean external debt attracted a larger and more diversified investor base. From 1982 to 2012, several countries in the region moved from facing a shortage of funds to learning how best to manage available financing options. Access to external debt financing is not universal, however, and despite increased resilience, vulnerability to external financial shocks can still be a threat.

Table of contents

I. The origins of the asset class: the debt crisis of the 1980s .-- II. Brady bonds .-- III. Emerging market tradable debt: the maturing of the asset class .-- IV. Developments in new debt issuance .-- V. Debt spreads rollercoaster: evolution and performance .-- VI. The long road to improved credit quality .-- VII. Unequal access: a closer look at Central America and the Caribbean .-- VIII. Looking ahead: are emerging and developed debt markets converging?