Debt Management in Latin America: How Safe Is the New Debt Composition?
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While public debt ratios in Latin America increased in 2009 amid the global financial crisis, they remain below levels reached following the Asian and Russian crises of the late 1990s. Moreover, debt composition has continued to shift towards "safer" debt (domestic debt with a higher prevalence of domestic currency liabilities). However, the current debt structure poses risks and policy challenges that should not be overlooked. Reviewing the latest available data on debt levels and composition for the region's largest countries, this brief concludes that debt managers should avoid complacency in thinking that the region is completely redeemed from old sins. Particularly overlooked is that there does not yet exist in the region a large investor base for debt denominated in domestic currency at fixed nominal rates and reasonably long maturities.