Just one month after rating agency Standard & Poor’s released a downbeat assessment of the outlook for Jamaica comes an equally – if not more – negative take from Barclays Capital Research.
The research note issued today by a New York-based BarCap analyst is unequivocal:
we believe that Jamaica is approaching the point of no return and that it will take more than fiscal adjustments to regain sustainability for the long term. For 2009, we expect interest payments to be 16.0pts of GDP, or more than 60% of revenues. Fiscal sustainability in Jamaica has been under pressure for the past ten years, but we believe that at this time, the IMF is more willing to help Jamaica restructure its debt than to prolong its agony.
Elsewhere in the note, which also examined El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, the analyst is even less sanguine about Jamaica’s financial prospects:
Of particular concern, Jamaica’s fiscal deficit could reach around 20% of GDP (with more than 15% of GDP in interest payments). We think it is extremely unlikely that any reform program will be able to put the country on a sustainable medium- to longer-term fiscal path and believe that the IMF is weighing whether it would be costlier to allow (and maybe help) the country to restructure its debt or to give the Jamaican government the USD1.2bn that is soliciting in order to postpone its agony.
Unfortunately, we believe that Jamaica may have already passed the point of no return and that for the IMF, as well as for the country in the long term, it would be more convenient to assist in a restructuring of debt.
As the three tables below – also from the note – illustrate, Jamaica is in dire straits both in absolute terms and as compared with other countries in Central America and the Caribbean: