Special Report

11 Countries Near Bankruptcy

Cyprus
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa3
> Moody’s outlook: Positive
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 121.5%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $24,171

In March of last year, Cyprus received a 10 billion euro loan from the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission to save its banking system from bankruptcy. Just over a year later, Cyrus returned to global debt markets, raising $1 billion in five-year bonds yielding less than 5%. This was a moderate victory for the Mediterranean island country as its five-year bond yields neared 14% in prior years. Despite rating its bonds as Caa3, the lowest rating before default, Moody’s has a positive outlook on the country. The country’s improving economic performance, coupled with historically low interest rates in other eurozone countries, will likely push more adventurous investors towards Cyprus to take advantage of higher yields.

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Greece
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa3
> Moody’s outlook: Stable
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 174.7%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $24,574

Once the poster child of economic calamity, Greece’s efforts to restructure its debt and impose economic discipline are paying off. In April of this year, Greece returned to international bond markets after a four-year hiatus, raising nearly $4.2 billion in an oversubscribed issue of five-year bonds with a yield below 5%. According to Greece’s Finance Ministry, almost 90% of bonds were issued to investors outside of Greece, indicating that international investors are beginning to view Greek government bonds as a good investment. While this is good news, Greece still has more work to do. The country’s unemployment rate remains above 26% and deflation currently threatens to further depress demand.

Jamaica
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa3
> Moody’s outlook: Positive
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): 133.7%
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): $9,256

Jamaica re-entered the global bond market in July 2014 with a bang, raising $800 million, which was well above the $500 million expected by government officials. The expanded deal indicates that investors are excited about investment opportunities in Jamaica. The country’s improving economy may explain some investor exuberance. Despite slow growth and an unemployment rate that has been consistently above 11% since the global recession, Jamaica has reduced government expenditure as a share of GDP from 38.6% in 2009 to an estimated 26.9% this year. Additionally, the Jamaican government expects its budget deficit to be nearly balanced in 2014.

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Ukraine
> Moody’s credit rating: Caa3
> Moody’s outlook: Negative
> 2014 Gov’t debt (pct. of GDP): N/A
> 2014 GDP per capita (PPP): N/A

Following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, who was a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the political crisis in Ukraine has largely escalated. In March, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in the Black Sea, from Ukraine. Violence between the government and pro-Russian separatists has also been rampant in eastern Ukraine. Financially, Ukraine’s relationship with Russia is also complex. Russia lent its neighbor $3 billion last December, when Yanukovych still ran the country. The bond deal contained a clause triggering automatic full repayment if Ukrainian government debt exceeded 60% of GDP, alongside other conditions that have worried several debt market experts. Due to the ongoing crisis, Moody’s downgraded Ukraine’s credit rating, and the IMF excluded projections for Ukraine from its most recent World Economic Outlook report.