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Latin American Banking: Banks prove resilient to global credit crunch

Latin American banks are well positioned to endure the credit crunch and a potential global economic slowdown, according to regional specialists. So far, the banking system has weathered the storm and analysts expect it to continue to do so.

Celina Vansetti-Hutchins, Moody’s

"Most Latin American banks have been able to pursue their intended growth strategies as the regional economies remain supportive of credit expansion"
Celina Vansetti-Hutchins, Moody’s

According to Celina Vansetti-Hutchins, author of a Moody’s report entitled The outlook for Latin American banks, released last month: "The region appears to be more resilient than ever before." Since the onset of the credit crisis in the US in the summer, several leading international banks have reported huge write-downs and their share prices have suffered sharp falls. By contrast, many Latin American banks’ performances have held up. "The region continues to attract investor interest, with Brazil and Mexico clearly in an advantageous position," says Vansetti-Hutchins. The performance of Latin bank stocks is in line with the overall performance of the market. According to EPFR Global, a data tracker, Latin American equity funds are up 60.76% on a net basis this year and the fund group has supplanted Asia ex-Japan as the best performer.

Still, Latin America is not totally unaffected by the crisis. Jorge Londono, president of Bancolombia, says: "We have been suffering the effects of the crunch because the markets have been getting a bit harder for our paper, and our spreads are increasing a bit.

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