Special Report

11 Countries Near Bankruptcy

Venezuela
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa1
> Moody’s outlook: Negative
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 51.6%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $13,531

Venezuela’s need for short term cash may lead to trouble in future years. President Nicolas Maduro’s administration plans to issue bonds through the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, to increase the availability of foreign currency in the country. More foreign currency may help tame inflation in Venezuela, which stood at 40.7% in 2013. However, according to Bloomberg, the rate at which the oil company is taking on debt will likely outpace oil revenues in the coming years, making it increasingly difficult to make future loan payments. Venezuela is expected to spend less than 2% of GDP on interest payments in 2014, a number that is likely to balloon if the country continues to rapidly issue debt. Venezuela also has the highest 10-year bond yields in the Western Hemisphere at 15.81% as of June 2014.

Argentina
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa1
> Moody’s outlook: Stable
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 52.9%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $18,917

Argentina’s current problems can be tied back to 2001, when the nation defaulted on about $100 billion worth of debt. While most of the nation’s bondholders at the time agreed to restructure their debt, a few investors refused. After a U.S. court ruled in 2012 that Argentina should not pay its current bondholders without paying the holdouts as well, the country has faced the prospect of yet another default. On July 30, Standard & Poor’s stated that Argentina had defaulted. Other relevant financial bodies, such as the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, are also expected to declare Argentina has defaulted. Argentina has been beset by economic problems for years. Inflation was widely-believed to be well in excess of the government’s reported rates, and Argentina has deliberately devalued its currency, the peso.

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Belize
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa2
> Moody’s outlook: Stable
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 80.4%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $8,915

Belize is a tiny Latin American nation with a population of less than half a million residents. The country has suffered from debt problems for years, first defaulting nearly a decade ago, after which it consolidated all of its international debts into a single bond. The country missed a payment on this “superbond” in August 2012, leading to a 2013 debt restructuring that resulted in a longer repayment time, a haircut to the bond’s overall value, and smaller payments for bondholders. Following the restructuring, Moody’s upgraded Belize’s credit rating to Caa2 with a stable outlook. The IMF projects that Belize’s total gross debt will reach 80.4% of GDP by the end of 2014.

Cuba
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa2
> Moody’s outlook: Stable
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): N/A
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): N/A

In April, Moody’s downgraded Cuba’s credit rating to Caa2 with a stable outlook. Weaknesses cited by Moody’s at the time included “limited access to external financing, high dependence on imported goods, political transition risk, and lack of data transparency.” Recently, Russia announced it had written off most of Cuba’s debt, significantly cutting the country’s obligations. Cuba does not pay interest on its debt and its bonds are rarely traded. The IMF does not collect figures for Cuba, which is not a member of the IMF and World Bank.