Prudent policies risk popular backlash
| Panama's president has
received praise from the IMF
for his fiscal austerity drive
but workers are wary of his
plans to reform social security
Panama's president, Martin Torrijos, came in for a nasty surprise when he took over the helm of central America's biggest debtor late last year. He inherited a hefty fiscal deficit of 5.2% of GDP that the outgoing government had maintained was half as big, and was met with street riots among workers suspicious that the new administration planned to privatize the state-run social security system. Panamanian debt sank sharply at the start of 2005 amid fears that the young government would not be up to the challenge of reforming the dollar-denominated economy, once seen as a safe haven credit in volatile Latin America. Panama's global 27 bond sold off almost 2.5% at the start of January and the paper fell to its support level of 105.00.