Investment-grade status makes Peru a darling
Peru’s dramatic rise from market pariah to investors’ darling was capped this year with investment-grade status awarded by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, opening Peruvian capital markets to huge interest among institutional investors. Ironically, Alan García, the president who made Peruvian debt a no-go area in the 1980s with soaring inflation and bond defaults, oversaw the upgrades in his second term, two decades later as a free-market convert.
With low inflation, one of Latin America’s fastest economic growth rates at 9% this year and a free-trade agreement with the US, Peru hopes to develop its nascent corporate and local-currency bond markets and create the kind of secondary trading and asset-backed transactions that are rarely seen outside Brazil and Mexico in the region. "There is a whole class of investors who previously never considered entering Peru, but with investment grade that all changes," says Juan Carlos Odar, senior credit analyst at the country’s top bank, BCP.
Although open to foreign investment, Peru’s stock market and a government drive to swap dollar-denominated debt into local paper have been the most active corners of an otherwise arid capital market scene. "The capital markets are very shallow but investment grade should guarantee permanent capital flows from abroad.