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Ecuador: Correa sends defiant message to bondholders

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa: making a political point

In the next few weeks, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, will decide whether to voluntarily take his country into default on up to $10.2 billion of external sovereign debt, equivalent to 25% of GDP. As the international community holds it breath, those close to the government are more philosophical. "Correa runs as a 21st-century socialist government. He wants to continue sending the message to the people that the poor come before debt," says Antonio Acosta Espinosa, president at Banco Pichincha, the leading bank in Ecuador. "This default threat does exactly that – sends a clear political message to his supporters. I personally think it is a political strategy and that payments will resume in the coming weeks, but I’m expecting that some international court will analyse the legality of some tranches of the external debt." A Moody’s report that downgraded Ecuador’s foreign currency bond rating to Caa1 agrees that the government’s motivation is political and ideological. On November 14, Correa announced that Ecuador would no longer pay the 12% coupon totalling $31 million on its 2012 global bond.

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