Country Risk: LatAm bank stability ranks higher than eurozone periphery in spite of big-country falls


Jeremy Weltman
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Euromoney Country Risk's proprietary indicators highlight shifts in banking risk in Latin America.

Latin America’s largest countries are among those that have experienced falls in their ECR bank score sub-components during the past year, according to Euromoney’s Country Risk rankings. This contrasts with smaller countries in the region that have generally seen an improvement. Bolivia – an exception to the rule – has weakened the most, with a 0.8 point drop in its bank score, but other countries experiencing increased bank risk include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela – five of the six largest countries in the region measured by GDP. The downgrades in part reflect susceptibility to increased loan default after rapid credit expansion. And they have taken place against the backdrop of a potential shake-out of the LatAm banking sector, as stronger regional lenders attempt to gain market share from Spanish and Portuguese banks divesting assets. This will continue if the eurozone crisis worsens. Even so, all but Nicaragua, Guatemala and Bolivia out of the 20 LatAm countries surveyed rank above Portugal and Spain’s bank stability scores of 4.2 and 4.1 respectively. A notable absentee from the list of ECR downgraders is Mexico, where perceptions about bank stability have remained unchanged amid expectations of consolidation among the nation’s lenders. Other notable results include: Ecuador, formerly propping up the list of 20 countries, now ranks 14, and Peru has jumped two places to sixth place, both aided by their comparatively prudent liquidity and solvency environments. Belize is the safest country in the region for bank stability, according to the ECR survey, followed by Chile, Colombia and Brazil. It has moved up from fourth spot during the past year, despite recent debt-sustainability concerns.

This article was originally published by Euromoney’s sister publication, Euromoney Country Risk