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Not just Argentina: Other Nations in Debt Doldrums

Not just Argentina: Other Nations in Debt Doldrums

Posted by Juan Gavasa on September 03, 2014

Argentina's lengthy debt saga returned to the spotlight last week, with its second default in only 12 years triggering George Soros and other investors to sue Bank of New York Mellon for withholding interest payments.

This came after Argentina refused to comply with a U.S. legal ruling ordering it to repay $1.3 billion to creditors, triggering a selective default. Moody's Investors Service downgraded its outlook for the country's debt to "negative" at the end of July and confirmed its long-term credit rating at "Caa1"—meaning it views Argentine debt as a highly risky investment at the precarious end of the "junk bond" spectrum.

Argentina is, nonetheless, only one of several countries whose shaky finances leave them on the brink of being unable to repay their obligations. Moody's currently rates 10 other countries' debt as equally or even more risky than that of Argentina. These span the globe, from nearby by Venezuela and Ecuador to Pakistan and Greece.

The table below shows the countries around the world judged as most likely to default on their sovereign debt by Moody's. Countries rated Caa1, like Egypt, are judged as risky as Argentina, while those rated Caa2 or Caa3 are even more speculative:

Other countries further up the junk bond spectrum still cause concern, like Ghana, whose credit rating was downgraded in June and has announced it might tap the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan as soon as next month.

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