Costa Rica built Latin America’s model society, enacting universal health care and spending its way to one of the Western Hemisphere’s highest literacy rates. Now, it’s reeling from the financially crushing side effects of the coronavirus, as cratering revenue and crisis spending force a reckoning over a massive pile of government debt, the Washington Post reported. The pandemic is hurtling heavily leveraged nations into an economic danger zone, threatening to bankrupt the worst-affected.
Resources Per Country
Severe coronavirus restrictions around the world to contain surging infection rates weighed on fuel sales, weakening the prospect of energy demand recovery in the first half of 2021, Reuters reported. Most of Europe is now under the strictest restrictions, according to the Oxford stringency index, which assesses indicators such as travel bans and the closure of schools and workplaces. The United Kingdom’s new national lockdown is expected to last until mid-February at least.
The drop in the amount of distressed debt across emerging markets has been a barely anticipated bonus for many countries this year. But it’s scant comfort for those nations still struggling with mounting obligations, Bloomberg News reported. The number of emerging- and frontier-market nations with debt trading at distressed levels -- yields more than 10 percentage points above those on U.S. Treasuries -- has tumbled from as many as 19 at the height of the coronavirus selloff in March to about a half-dozen now.
South Africa’s state power monopoly says it will need to charge consumers more for electricity if it is to cut its debts and stave off bankruptcy, even as rolling blackouts continue to plague Africa’s most industrial nation, the Financial Times reported. Years of corruption and mismanagement under disgraced former president Jacob Zuma left Eskom with surging costs, falling revenues, a fleet of breakdown-prone coal power stations and ballooning debts.
South Africa’s biggest pot of available cash — R1.91trn ($128bn) of civil-servant pensions and unemployment funds managed by the Public Investment Corp. — is emerging as the key to rescuing the debt-stricken national power monopoly, BizNews reported. The money manager has approached its parent agency, the National Treasury, with a proposal to ease the R464bn load of obligations crushing Eskom, signaling officials are gearing up for the complex financial and political operation to convert about R95bn of Eskom debt held by the PIC into equity.
Zambia must build majority stakes in selected mines to benefit from its mineral wealth beyond taxes, President Edgar Lungu said on Thursday, as he set out an economic recovery plan after the country defaulted on a debt payment last month, Reuters reported. Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, Zambia is seeking to increase its control over the mining sector - the country’s main generator of hard currency - as it navigates a debt crisis.