Monday, September 15, 2008

Analysis: Peruvian economy grows 10.3% during the 1st half of 2008

The Peruvian Central Bank raised its benchmark interest rate on Thursday (September 11th) by 25 basis points to 6.5%.

On the surface international investors are increasingly starting to view Peru as a safe region for commodity plays and “alternative investment strategies.”

- Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings upgraded Peru's foreign debt to one level below investment grade. (click here for article)

- In May Peru entered talks with the Paris Club to re-nogciate its foreign debt and for the first time, Peru's international reserves are expected to exede foreign debt. (click here for article)

- Peru has achieved relative political and economically stability, successfully passing power from one democratically elected president (Toledo) to another (Garcia) and producing healthy economic growth the past few years.

- Generous macro-economic incentives have helped to attract FDI from abroad, particularly in Peru's mining and energy sectors.

- According to this article from MercoPress, which quotes the INEI: Peru's National Institute of Statistics (click here to visit) the Peruvian economy grew at a rate of 10.3% in the first half of 2008, making it the fastest growing economy in the region.

Lets think about this for a second...

Until the recent retreat/collapse/correction in commodity markets, for the majority of 2008, commodity prices have been sky-rocketing, setting records as arguably one of the strongest bull markets the commodity sector has ever experiences.

Peru, a major producer and exporter of copper, zinc, and other metals has naturally benefited a great deal from soaring commodity prices. However, now that commodity prices have come back down to reality it will become increasingly more difficult for Peru to produce such great numbers. The bright side is commodity prices may rise once again once global growth and confidence pick up, but with the recent developments in the US financial markets it is looking as if the global economy has a long way to go until recovering from the recent credit and banking crisis.

Investors should always research the bad and the good. Some factors which come to mind are as follows:

- The recent replacing of Finance Minister Luis Carranza with Luis Valdivierso, who aside from a more impressive resume having worked for the IMF... is really not much different that Mr. Carranza. It's a pity the main reason Carranza even stepped down was for “family reasons.” Stating, as the Minister of Finance he was over-worked, had little family time and could not adequately support his family.

- Protests and strikes from local communities and unions will remain a obstacle for many companies operating in the remote regions of Peru.

- The population and satisfaction of the Peruvian people with their current president Alan Garcia, and other Peruvian politicians whom are not of the radical left such former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, have whitnessed their approval ratings shrink a great deal in the past 1-2 years... Meanwhile Humala has managed to remain in the spot light, maintain his friendship with Hugo Chavez and will probably will run for President once again in Peru's next election. Expect great changes if he wins.