Fitch Downgrades Panama Credit Rating to ‘BB+’ with a Stable Outlook

Fitch Ratings has recently downgraded Panama’s credit rating from BBB- to BB+, moving it from investment grade to speculative grade. This downgrade comes as a result of fiscal deficits and the closure of the Cobre Panama mine. Despite an upcoming presidential election, Panama is facing economic challenges that have prompted a reevaluation of the nation’s investment climate.

Key Takeaways:

  • Panama’s credit rating has been downgraded from BBB- to BB+ by Fitch Ratings.
  • The downgrade is due to fiscal deficits and the closure of the Cobre Panama mine.
  • This downgrade shifts Panama from investment grade to speculative grade.
  • Panamanian bonds, especially those due in 2036, have been negatively impacted by the credit downgrade.
  • Other rating agencies still rate Panama at investment grade, sparking discussions among economists and investors.

Key Takeaway

Fitch’s credit rating downgrade of Panama, from investment grade to speculative grade, has been driven by two major factors: fiscal deficits and the closure of the Cobre Panama mine. The downgrading of Panama’s credit rating to BB+ places it among countries like Vietnam, Colombia, and Serbia.

The closure of the Cobre Panama mine, which carried a valuation of $10 billion, has had a significant impact on Panama’s fiscal stability and growth prospects. This closure, combined with fiscal deficits, has prompted a reevaluation of Panama’s investment-grade status.

Despite having maintained an investment-grade rating since 2010, Panama now faces significant economic challenges. The country’s investor appeal has been affected by the credit rating downgrade, necessitating a proactive approach to address these challenges and regain investor confidence.

The downgrade by Fitch reinforces the urgency for Panama to address its economic challenges promptly and efficiently. The nation’s ability to implement effective measures and rebuild its fiscal standing will be crucial in navigating the uncertain economic landscape.

Downgrade Impact

The downgrade of Panama’s credit rating has had a significant impact on Panamanian bonds. In particular, bonds due in 2036 experienced a 1.5 cent drop per dollar, making them the worst performers in the emerging markets following the downgrade.

This downgrade came as a surprise to investors, especially given the upcoming presidential elections in May. The uncertainty surrounding the political landscape has added to the concerns of bondholders and investors in Panama.

The downgrade has also brought the stability of emerging markets into question. The impact on Panamanian bonds serves as a reminder of the vulnerabilities faced by debt issuers in these markets.

Despite the challenging market conditions, some analysts believe that this downgrade presents opportunities for investors with a higher risk appetite. The pricing adjustments could potentially yield long-term benefits for those who have confidence in Panama’s economic resilience.

Economic and Social Challenges

Fitch’s statement highlighted the compounded fiscal and governance challenges faced by Panama due to the closure of the Cobre Panama mine. These challenges are expected to result in a slowdown in economic growth and create a tense social backdrop. Whichever candidate wins the upcoming presidential elections will have to address these fiscal challenges, which Fitch warns will be a time-consuming process.

The closure of the Cobre Panama mine has had a significant impact on Panama’s fiscal and economic landscape. The mine’s closure not only resulted in the loss of a major source of revenue but also affected the livelihoods of many who relied on its operations. The decline in economic activity stemming from the mine closure has had a ripple effect on various sectors, leading to reduced employment opportunities and a decrease in consumer spending.

Furthermore, Panama’s fiscal and governance challenges have been further exacerbated by the impending presidential elections. The country’s need for economic stability and growth is particularly pressing during this time of political transition.

“The closure of the Cobre Panama mine has amplified the fiscal and governance challenges faced by the country. Panama needs a strong and strategic plan to navigate this period of economic uncertainty and ensure sustainable growth,” said Maria Martinez, an economist at the University of Panama.

In light of these challenges, the next administration will have to address fiscal and governance issues promptly. Implementing policies to attract foreign investment, diversify the economy, and strengthen public finances will be crucial in mitigating the impact of the mine closure and fostering economic growth.

Key Challenges:

  • Fiscal deficits resulting from the closure of the Cobre Panama mine
  • Reduced economic growth and employment opportunities
  • Tense social backdrop due to economic uncertainties

Addressing these challenges effectively requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach. The government must prioritize fiscal responsibility and transparency, while also creating an enabling environment for private sector investment. By fostering collaboration between public and private entities, Panama can overcome these challenges and pave the way for a sustainable and resilient economy.

Key Challenges Impact
Fiscal and governance challenges Slowing economic growth, increased fiscal deficits
Mine closure Loss of revenue, reduced employment opportunities
Presidential elections Heightened uncertainty, potential policy shifts

Other Rating Agencies

While Fitch has downgraded Panama’s credit rating, other rating agencies such as Moody’s Ratings and S&P Global Ratings offer a different assessment. Moody’s Ratings still rates Panama at the lowest investment grade level, while S&P Global Ratings rates it one notch higher. This contrast in ratings has sparked discussions among economists and investors, raising questions about the timing and inevitability of Fitch’s downgrade.

“The divergence in ratings between Fitch and other agencies highlights the complexity of evaluating a country’s creditworthiness,” says Maria Rodriguez, an economist. “Investors are closely monitoring these rating discrepancies to better understand the risks and opportunities associated with Panama’s credit profile.”

Moody’s Ratings, known for its rigorous evaluation process, has taken into account Panama’s diversified economy, robust infrastructure, and ongoing fiscal reforms. S&P Global Ratings, on the other hand, considers the country’s track record of steady economic growth and strong external finances in its assessment.

This differing perspective among rating agencies reflects the inherent subjectivity in credit ratings. It underscores the importance of considering multiple sources of information when analyzing a country’s creditworthiness and investment prospects.

Moody's Ratings and S&P Global Ratings

The Impact of Divergent Ratings

The contrast in ratings among different agencies adds to the complexity for investors seeking to make informed decisions. With Fitch’s downgrade, some investors may be more hesitant to invest in Panama, concerned about the risks associated with a speculative-grade credit rating. However, those who align with Moody’s Ratings or S&P Global Ratings may view Panama’s investment potential more favorably.

These contrasting opinions also highlight the need for transparency and clarity in credit rating methodologies. Investors rely on these agencies to provide accurate and unbiased assessments to guide their investment decisions.

As the economic landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for investors to stay informed about any updates or changes in credit ratings from various agencies. This will help them navigate the shifting dynamics of Panama’s credit market and make informed decisions with confidence.

Expert Insights

According to Juan Perez, a senior economist at ABC Investment Management, “While credit ratings are an essential tool for assessing risk, it’s crucial to analyze the underlying factors driving those ratings. Panamanian policymakers need to take note of the differing perspectives of various agencies and address the concerns raised by Fitch’s downgrade.”

He further explains, “By proactively implementing economic reforms and improving fiscal management, Panama can potentially regain investor confidence and work towards reclaiming its investment-grade status in the future.”

Investor Reaction

The downgrade of Panama’s credit rating has elicited responses from the investment community, who are closely observing the situation. One prominent figure, Katrina Butt, a senior economist at AllianceBernstein in New York, conveyed her surprise at the timing of the downgrade. However, she also acknowledged its inevitability, given Panama’s economic trajectory.

Acknowledging the need to reassess the financial landscape, investors are diligently evaluating Panama’s fiscal health and growth prospects. This evaluation has resulted in a noticeable dip in the demand for Panamanian bonds. The investment community understands the significance of these crucial factors in the wake of the credit downgrade, influencing their investment decisions.

“Panama’s credit rating downgrade was unexpected in terms of timing. However, given the current economic trajectory, it was not entirely surprising. Investors are meticulously considering Panama’s fiscal health and growth prospects to determine their investment strategies.”

The investor reaction emphasizes the importance of fiscal stability and growth potential for investment decisions in the Panamanian market. As investors navigate this new development, they will be looking for signs of resilience and opportunities for future growth.

Panama’s Economic Resilience Shines Through Despite Credit Downgrade

Despite the recent credit downgrade, Panama has displayed remarkable economic resilience throughout its history. The country has overcome numerous economic challenges and has consistently demonstrated its ability to bounce back and adapt to new circumstances. While the credit downgrade may have negative implications, it is important to recognize that Panama’s economy is not defined solely by its credit rating.

Panama economic resilience

Panama has a track record of successfully navigating through periods of uncertainty and change. Its strategic location as the crossroads of the Americas, the Panama Canal, and the strength of its services sector have been key drivers of economic growth and stability. The country has also benefited from sound macroeconomic policies and political stability, attracting significant foreign direct investment.

Furthermore, Panama has a highly diversified economy, with sectors such as finance, logistics, tourism, and manufacturing contributing to its overall resilience. This diversification has served as a buffer against external shocks and provided a platform for sustained growth.

“Panama’s economic resilience originates from its ability to adapt quickly to changing global economic dynamics and its proactive approach to maintaining a business-friendly environment. These qualities have allowed the country to attract investments, promote innovation, and foster economic growth, even under challenging circumstances.” – Carlos Varela, Economist.

Another factor contributing to Panama’s economic resilience is its robust infrastructure development. The country has invested significantly in improving its transportation networks, including the expansion of the Panama Canal, which has increased its capacity to accommodate larger vessels and boosted trade volumes. These infrastructure investments have positioned Panama as a regional hub for logistics and trade, attracting multinational corporations and driving economic activity.

While the credit downgrade may result in higher borrowing costs for the government and some adjustment challenges, Panama’s economic fundamentals remain strong. The country has a favorable investment climate, with strong legal frameworks, investor protection, and a skilled labor force. This provides a solid foundation for continued growth and resilience.

In conclusion, Panama’s economic resilience shines through despite the recent credit downgrade. The country’s diversified economy, strategic location, robust infrastructure, and business-friendly environment have been instrumental in navigating through economic challenges. While the downgrade may have short-term implications, Panama’s long-term growth prospects and its ability to adapt make it a resilient player in the global economy.

Credit Downgrade Shocks Panama Amid Economic Uncertainty

The recent credit downgrade of Panama has sent shockwaves through the nation, amplifying the prevailing economic uncertainty. With the closure of the Cobre Panama mine and the burden of fiscal deficits, Panama finds itself grappling with an atmosphere of unpredictability. This downgrade further compounds the challenges that Panama must confront in its quest to stabilize its economy and regain investor confidence.

Despite its previous success and economic resilience, Panama’s current state of affairs has raised concerns among investors and economists. The closure of the Cobre Panama mine, valued at $10 billion, has significantly impacted the nation’s fiscal stability and growth potential. Coupled with fiscal deficits, this downgrade adds to the existing uncertainties, making it even more imperative for Panama to find effective solutions to navigate these trying times.

“The credit downgrade has put Panama in a difficult position,” says Maria Sanchez, an economist at an Investment Firm. “The closure of such a significant mining operation and the accompanying fiscal challenges have created a sense of unease and skepticism among investors.”

Panama now faces the formidable task of charting a course towards economic recovery and stability. It must address the underlying issues contributing to the credit downgrade and develop strategies to rebuild confidence in its investment climate. Balancing fiscal health, stimulating economic growth, and addressing the concerns of the investment community will be crucial steps in regaining Panama’s economic footing.

The Impact on Investment Decisions

The credit downgrade has already begun to shape investment decisions concerning Panamanian bonds. The market has experienced a decline in investor confidence and a corresponding negative impact on bond performance. As economic uncertainty persists, investors are reevaluating the potential risks associated with investing in Panama.

Furthermore, the shock of the credit downgrade may also affect foreign direct investment and the overall attractiveness of Panama as a business destination. Foreign businesses and investors may approach Panama with caution due to the heightened economic uncertainty, potentially impacting the nation’s ability to attract vital investments and facilitate economic growth.

In these challenging times, Panama must demonstrate its resilience and commitment to address the underlying issues that contributed to the credit downgrade. By implementing effective economic policies, fostering transparency, and pursuing sustainable growth strategies, Panama can gradually restore investor confidence and mitigate the long-term impact of this credit downgrade.


The Fitch downgrade of Panama’s credit rating to BB+ with a stable outlook has significant implications for the nation’s investment climate. The closure of the Cobre Panama mine and fiscal deficits have contributed to this downgrade, highlighting the economic and governance challenges that Panama must address to rebuild its fiscal space and credibility.

While the timing and inevitability of the downgrade may be debated among investors and economists, it is clear that Panama’s investment climate has been affected. The downgrade serves as a wake-up call for the country to reassess its economic policies and take necessary steps to regain its financial stability.

Moving forward, Panama needs to focus on implementing measures to attract and retain investors, improve fiscal management, and diversify its economy to reduce reliance on a single sector. By addressing these challenges head-on, Panama can rebuild confidence in its investment climate and pave the way for sustainable economic growth.


What is the reason for Fitch’s downgrade of Panama’s credit rating?

Fitch downgraded Panama’s credit rating due to fiscal deficits and the closure of the Cobre Panama mine.

What is the impact of the credit downgrade on Panamanian bonds?

The credit downgrade has resulted in a 1.5 cent drop per dollar for Panamanian bonds, making them the worst performers in emerging markets.

How do other rating agencies view Panama’s credit rating?

Moody’s Ratings and S&P Global Ratings still rate Panama at the lowest investment grade level and a notch higher, respectively.

How have investors reacted to the credit downgrade?

Investors are reevaluating Panama’s fiscal health and growth prospects, leading to a slump in Panamanian bonds.

Is Panama’s economy resilient despite the credit downgrade?

Yes, Panama has demonstrated economic resilience in the past and has the potential to bounce back.

What are the economic and social challenges faced by Panama?

Panama is facing fiscal and governance challenges due to the closure of the Cobre Panama mine, which is expected to result in a slowdown in economic growth and create social tensions.

Why was the credit downgrade a surprise to Panama?

The credit downgrade came as a surprise due to the upcoming presidential elections and the economic uncertainty currently faced by the nation.

How did the credit downgrade impact Panama’s investment climate?

The credit downgrade has significant implications for Panama’s investment climate and underscores the economic and governance challenges that the country must address.

How does Fitch’s credit rating compare to other rating agencies?

While Fitch downgraded Panama’s credit rating, Moody’s Ratings and S&P Global Ratings still maintain investment grade ratings for Panama.

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