Argentina's rate risk dropped Friday below that of neighboring Brazil, a day after the successful floating of sovereign bonds totaling US$ 500 million, at the lowest interest rate since August 2005.
The country risk is the extra rate (percentage points) that must be paid – taking as reference the US Treasury bonds – and therefore gauges investors' confidence in the country's bonds.
According to the JP Morgan Index, Argentina reached on Friday a minimum 182 points risk rate (1.82 percentage points above US Treasury bonds), five points less than on Thursday and below the 187 points of Brazil.
Contrary to Brazil Argentina in 2002 defaulted on sovereign bonds valued over US$ 100 billion and after long and complicated negotiations managed to restructure its liabilities by 2005, with a significant cut in the bonds' face value.
The proposal, which managed a 76% adherence of creditors, allowed Argentina to drastically reduce the cost of servicing the debt and extend in time maturing dates.
Although some US$ 20 billion are still in the hands of bond holders that refused to accept the exchange of bonds, investors find Argentine assets interesting and trust the country's capacity to service them based on a strong economic expansion and fiscal solvency.
Last Thursday Argentina floated US$ 500 million in 2013 bonds with an implicit interest rate of 7.71% paid twice annually. Argentina since 2003 has been growing at a rate in the range of 8 and 9%. For 2007, the Argentine Central Bank estimated the economy will expand at least 7.5%.
In related news it was reported the Argentine Central Bank ended 2006 with record international reserves in the range of US$ 32.03 billion.
Reserves stood at US$ 28.1 billion towards the end of 2005, but last year the President Kirchner administration decided to cancel all credits pending with the International Monetary Fund and repaid US$ 9.5 billion.
The Central Bank points out that contrary to previous situations the recovery of international reserves is simultaneous to the canceling of pending debt in foreign currencies. Trade surplus was the main source for the increase in reserves.