Latin American Default Wave Just Getting Started: Credit Markets

Latin America is turning into the world leader in corporate-bond defaults, Bloomberg News reported. Four companies in the region have skipped dollar-denominated debt payments this month, more than any other area and almost half the total in all of 2014. In a sign bond investors are increasingly concerned about Latin American companies’ ability to repay debt, borrowers led by Mexico’s oil-rig operators have pushed the amount of the region’s bonds trading at distressed prices to $58 billion, about a third of all emerging-market debt trading at such levels. The strains that have investors from Prudential Financial Inc. to Hartford Investment Management Co. bracing for more defaults are showing few signs of abating. An oil-led collapse in commodities prices has persisted, growth is flagging in economies from Mexico to Colombia, and the biggest corruption scandal in Brazil’s history is spreading. That raises the risk of even bigger losses for investors saddled with the worst returns in emerging-markets this year. Read more.